Social Costs/Social Values Project

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

The Social Costs/Social Values Project was a joint multinational tobacco company project undertaken in 1979 to develop unified, global measures to combat the social cost and passive smoking arguments against smoking, and to slow or reverse the declining social acceptability of smoking worldwide.

The "social costs" argument against smoking holds that smoking places additional financial burdens on society by increasing on-the-job absenteeism, medical costs, cleaning costs, and losses due to fires. The argument proved persuasive in convincing employers to voluntarily ban smoking from their workplaces. The "passive smoking" argument holds that the smoker not only harms himself, but that secondhand smoke threatens the health of nonsmokers.

The tobacco industry viewed these two arguments as distinct threats, and created the Social Costs/Social Values Project specifically to counter these arguments. To do this, the industry commissioned a number of sociology professionals and academics to create argumentation supporting the view that smoking is a normal behavior, and to elicit the benefits of smoking to society.[1] [2]

The Social Costs/Social Values project was carried out through the international tobacco company organization ICOSI, the International Committee on Smoking Issues. The bulk of the effort was coordinated by an ICOSI subcommittee called the Social Acceptability Working Party, or SAWP.[3]

Relates SourceWatch resources


  1. Goals of the Social Costs/Social Values Project R.J. Reynolds. February 1990. 14 pp. Bates No. 502135910/5923
  2. Social Costs/Social Values Project MWC Letter of 000515 TO You, HC - JMH - AH (CC: HM) Jules M. Hartogh, PM EEMA; memorandum. May 23, 1980. Philip Morris Bates No. 2501022121/2122
  3. Tobacco industry sociological programs to influence public beliefs about smoking. Landman A, Cortese DK, Glantz S. Social Science and Medicine. 27 December 2007

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