Tremendous new resource on tobacco industry issue ads now available

Rob Jackler just published Propaganda Crusades by Philip Morris International & Altria: “Smoke-Free Future” & “Moving Beyond Smoke” Campaigns Exposing the Hypocrisy of the Claim: “A Tobacco Company That Actually Cares About Health,” an encyclopedic analysis of Philip Morris and Altria’s issue advertising campaigns claiming that the companies have changed from promoting death for profit to promoting health. The report also comments on similar campaigns by BAT and JTI.

While the primary focus is the current campaigns, Jackler puts them in the context of similar issue advertising from the tobacco companies dating all the way back to the 1954 “Frank Statement” ad claiming that the tobacco companies were responding responsibly to growing public awareness of the smoking-lung cancer link. Jackler summarized past industry issue advertising opposing advertising restrictions, taxes and smokefree policies and laws and other public health measures.

He shows how the companies are using these issue ads to sidestep newspaper policies declining conventional tobacco advertising and calls on the publications to stop accepting these ads.

He has an excellent discussion of how these ads fit in to the companies’ larger PR efforts to reposition themselves as part of the “solution” rather than the “problem” of tobacco-induced disease places how the companies are using these ads to undermine the World Health Organization and other efforts to implement the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

There is also an excellent discussion of PMI’s Foundation for a Smokefree World and its PR efforts as well as a summary of the evidence that Philip Morris and Altria are still aggressively promoting Marlboro and other cigarettes, particularly in poorer countries.

There is an excellent discussion of PM’s claims about IQOS and how they compare with reality, especially the fact that IQOS does not lead people to “switch completely” from cigarettes. Regulators need to pay close attention to this information because, without saying so, it illuminates the big mistake FDA made in allowing marketing of these products.

The report contains an extensive collection of the issue ads over the years as well as important information from industry documents, company presentations and regulatory filings and the relevant academic literature.

This report is an invaluable resource and reference for people and organizations working on a wide range of issues. Everyone should take the time to download and review the report to inform their future work.

March 2, 2022 update: The report was updated on March 3, 2022 to include a discussion of Imperial Tobacco Canada’s “Clear the Smoke” campaign whose stated goal is to: “promote and embed tobacco harm reduction as a public health strategy.” 

Published by Stanton Glantz

Stanton Glantz is a retired Professor of Medicine who served on the University of California San Francisco faculty for 45 years. He conducts research on tobacco and cannabis control and cardiovascular disease/

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