Project Down Under -- Group Presentation to Senior Management Friday, 870626

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Project Down Under -- Group Presentation to Senior Management Friday, 870626

This is a condensed version of the conclusions reached at Philip Morris' (PM) Operation Downunder Conference held in June, 1987. Operation Downunder was a major conference held to brainstorm strategies about how PM could combat the growing information that secondhand smoke is harmful, an issue which was deemed to be severely damaging PM's profits.

This version contains some very telling additional discussion of the issue. For example, under the section entitled "Basic Recommendations" on Page 1, PM lists the following strategies:

"2. NRA Strategy. Put some people out of business who are trying to put us out of business... ..4. Support dramatic increase in scientific activity on [environmental tobacco smoke], indoor air pollution and positive sociological and economic aspects of smoking."

On Page 2, under the section entitled "Smokers, non-smokers and anti-smokers", a strategy is to "Isolate anti-smokers and make the perceived as shrill and unreasonable..." The paper reveals that a purpose of PM's "Accommodation" policy is to bait public health workers into criticizing the industry, at which point PM planned to make them look "shrill and unreasonable" :

"We a large press conference where we will announce, in response to survey results, we are discarding present policy and replacing it with a new, reasonable, accommodating, sensible policy advocating separation of smokers and non-smokers in public places...We will go from 'black hat' to 'gray hat' on this issue, the anti's will attack, become shrill and unreasonable in the face of our accommodation and reasonableness."

This passage (above) refers to PM's Accommodation Program.

To get "Public Officials and Policy Makers" to do PM's bidding on the secondhand smoke issue, PM's strategy was:

"Making it hurt: Select weakest of our enemies, make active effort to defeat them in next election, then let people know what we did and why we did it...Against a background of us being responsible...the strategy will work."

The writer then defends the "make it hurt" strategy, saying, "The defeat of a politician will be perceived as the result of the votes of smokers, not PM" and "We intend to be very discreet."

PM also apparently had a problem with mainstream scientific journals not being responsive enough to its needs. To remedy this, a plan in PM's Operation Downunder (as seen on on page 5), was for the company to establish its own scientific journal:

"4. Establish a genuine scientific journal on indoor air quality. The James L. Repace horror story demonstrates need: it took 20 months for us to get rebuttal letter to Repace study published in journal that published Repace. [Our own] journal could be issued four times per year at a cost of about $100,000."

PM's plan also included "feeding simplified stories [about ETS/indoor air] to the media, or as an alternative, acquire a popular science magazine of the stature of Omni or Discover."

To the question posed by PM CEO R. William "Bill" Murray, "What are the risks of your proposals? Will it just make the situation worse?", the writer answers, "The situation can't get any worse. Sales are down, can't be attributed to taxes or price increases...There is a continual decline in smoking opportunities at work, in travel in liesure time."

And finally, in recognition of what the public is trying to say to PM, the writer considers possible arguments against the company that could come as a result of this plan:

"Raising profile of ETS could cause a link back to the primary [health] issue. This is the greatest risk. For example, ACS sees us raising the noise level, comes back with "You are so responsible no about accommodating non-smokers, what about your own customers who you are killing?"

Date 19870626/E
Bates 2021502671/2678
Pages 8