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Tobacco industry responses to industry-focused campaigns

Institution: University of California, San Francisco
Investigator(s): Ruth Malone, Ph.D., R.N.
Award Cycle: 2002 (Cycle 11) Grant #: 11RT-0139 Award: $77,806
Subject Area: Public Health, Public Policy, and Economics
Award Type: Research Project Awards

Initial Award Abstract
Tobacco control policy is shaped by many interrelated efforts. In recent years, public health advocates have increasingly focused attention on the tobacco industry’s role as “the vector of the tobacco epidemic” in changing views of tobacco use and building public support for tobacco control policies. There is evidence that intervention strategies that hold the tobacco industry accountable for its behavior may in fact be considerably more effective than other approaches. However, no previous studies have systematically examined how the tobacco industry appraises and responds to campaigns that focus on the industry’s role.

Public relations theory suggests that during times of uncertainty, companies are more motivated to engage in two-way relations with their various publics. As the need for such relations increases, so does the constraint that activist groups may exert. This suggests that periods when industry-focused campaigns are undertaken may also be periods during which the industry may be highly motivated to consider changing in some way. This study will show whether this is true in the case of the tobacco industry and if so, how this plays out in internally within the organization and externally in terms of their public relations practices.

The specific aims of the study are to 1) analyze internal tobacco industry documents in order to describe the tobacco industry’s responses to industry-focused campaigns; and 2) prepare a set of linked case studies describing and comparing these campaigns and analyzing which appear to be most effective in facilitating changes in industry behavior. Within- and cross-case analyses will explore whether specific types of campaigns appear more effective than others in promoting industry changes consistent with tobacco control objectives. The study will also describe specific strategies the industry uses to appraise and counter such campaigns and will compare its internal and external responses to various ‘publics’ when faced with such campaigns. The linked workbook of cases produced from this research will be a useful tool for tobacco control advocates to use in designing more effective campaigns and anticipating and countering industry attempts to undermine their efforts. This project addresses TRDRP’s priority interest in understanding more about the roles of anti- and pro-tobacco forces in shaping tobacco control policy.

Thinking the 'unthinkable': why Philip Morris considered quitting.
Periodical: Tobacco Control Index Medicus:
Authors: Smith EA, Malone RE ART
Yr: 2003 Vol: 12 Nbr: 2 Abs: Pg: 208-213