Policy Outreach Group

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The Policy Outreach Group of Philip Morris in New York was created as a new division to fund and control think-tanks around the world in 1994.

These policy groups and think-tank organisations were to be enlisted by "grants and contributions" under the control of Steve Parrish, the VP of Corporate Affairs and Senior Counsel for Philip Morris. He was a lawyer-lobbyist from Shook Hardy & Bacon who became an executive at Philip Morris. The aim of the Policy Outreach Group was to create a global network of credible, independent outside business support organisations and think-tanks which would distribute PM's messages and act as an echo chamber for addressing responses on major issues facing the company ... to fit the strategy of federal/state government affairs objectives.

Parrish, gave science manipulator, Tom Borelli, the task of creating an internal group (see May 1994 memo). Essentially they are combining the New York's PM Corporate Affairs division and the Washington Regulatory Office's (WRO) Issues Group into an Internal Think-Tank Group.

In his memo Borelli warns that:

... it is imperative to protect the independence and individual work of policy groups and media. Therefore, PM staff interacting with such groups should not be affiliated with the specific responsibilities of Regulatory Affairs. Because policy groups must never believe they are acting at PM's mandate (because they are not), they should deal with company representatives in the more general area of Corporate Affairs.

[Translation: They should be controlled by public relations staff, not by any obvious political lobbyists. This will allow them to rationalize the financial arrangement.] The group would be run by Philip Morris's new policy/media staff along with federal/state affairs staff working as a single unit -- with the aim of continually address company-wide themes (junk science, environmental priorities) around the world. They would also coordinating advertising on specific issues.

This plan was aimed at solving many problems the industry had in influencing public opinion. Borelli spells these out as:

  • funding in the past has been erratic and the think-tanks object. Dealings have been ad-hoc.
  • the industry has lacked long-term strategies and therefore failed to established tust and long-term relationships.
  • handlers in the past have lacked sensitivity in dealing with think-tank staff leading to PM being vulnerable to press and congressional scrutiny,
  • there have been confused approaches when different PM staff deal with the same organization.
  • there is a need to have think-tanks/policy groups focus on vital issues -- (with) consistent, positive pressure
  • need to develop new policy group relationships, and to extend these arrangements internationally
  • the new group will guarantee prompt mobilization of policy groups in a crisis.

[A handnote also comments on "lost opportunities", and that this project was "similar to scientific consultants program."

They were also developing an outreach program to unspecified environmental groups ... to form relationships and partnerships with audiences that are not naturally ours, and in some cases, to help provide policy groups with an avenue to implement free-market or alternative ideas about protecting the environment.

Each team member would be given responsibility for a key issue. They would then develop overall strategy for that issue and maintain contact with specific groups. Borelli lists 76 Libertarian think-tanks and business/trade groups in North America (most well known helpers of the tobacco industry). He also lists international policy groups in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belorussia, Bolivia ... (etc alphabetic) ... up to the UK group.

The British list includes:

  • Adam Smith Institute;
  • Atlas Economic Research Foundation (also in US and Australia);
  • CRCE (Centre for Research into Post-Communist Economies);
  • David Hume Institute;
  • Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA - the primary British think-tank);
  • IEA Health and Welfare Unit;
  • Social Affairs Unit (already a well-developed tobacco front);
  • The Education Unit - Warlingham Park School -- (actually a libertarian publisher known as IPSET)


See also English think-tanks http://www.nira.or.jp/past/linke/tt-link/lec/lec-177.html