Concept: Legacy Tobacco Documents Library
BACKGROUND: The Tea Party, which gained prominence in the USA in 2009, advocates limited government and low taxes. Tea Party organisations, particularly Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, oppose smoke-free laws and tobacco taxes. METHODS: We used the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, the Wayback Machine, Google, LexisNexis, the Center for Media and Democracy and the Center for Responsive Politics (opensecrets.org) to examine the tobacco companies' connections to the Tea Party. RESULTS: Starting in the 1980s, tobacco companies worked to create the appearance of broad opposition to tobacco control policies by attempting to create a grassroots smokers' rights movement. Simultaneously, they funded and worked through third-party groups, such as Citizens for a Sound Economy, the predecessor of AFP and FreedomWorks, to accomplish their economic and political agenda. There has been continuity of some key players, strategies and messages from these groups to Tea Party organisations. As of 2012, the Tea Party was beginning to spread internationally. CONCLUSIONS: Rather than being a purely grassroots movement that spontaneously developed in 2009, the Tea Party has developed over time, in part through decades of work by the tobacco industry and other corporate interests. It is important for tobacco control advocates in the USA and internationally, to anticipate and counter Tea Party opposition to tobacco control policies and ensure that policymakers, the media and the public understand the longstanding connection between the tobacco industry, the Tea Party and its associated organisations.
The 1990s state litigation that resulted in the tobacco industry’s initial document disclosure obligations fully expired in 2010. These obligations have been extended and enhanced until 2021 through a federal lawsuit against the tobacco industry over violations of the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). In this special communication, we summarise and explain the new legal framework and enhanced document disclosure obligations of the major US tobacco companies. We describe the events leading up to these new requirements, including the tobacco companies' failed attempt to close the Minnesota Tobacco Document Depository, the release of 100 000 documents onto the companies' document websites discovered to have been publicly available at the Minnesota Tobacco Document Depository but not online, and the addition of over 2300 documents to those websites, which are also now publicly available at Minnesota after being secured for years in a separate, non-public storage room at the Minnesota Tobacco Document Depository. We also detail the document indexing enhancements and redesign of the University of California, San Francisco’s Legacy Tobacco Documents Library website, made possible by the RICO litigation, and which is anticipated to be released in September 2014. Last, we highlight the public health community’s continued opportunity to expose the US tobacco industry’s efforts to undermine public health through these new search enhancements and improved document accessibility and due to the continuously growing document collection until at least 2021.
AIMS: To use tobacco industry documents on cigarette pack shape, size and openings to identify industry findings on associations with brand imagery, product attributes, consumer perceptions and behaviour. METHODS: Internal tobacco industry research and marketing documents obtained through court disclosure contained in the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library were searched using keywords related to pack shapes, sizes and opening methods. The search identified 66 documents related to consumer research and marketing plans on pack shape, size and openings, drawn from 1973 to 2002. RESULTS: Industry research consistently found that packs that deviated from the traditional flip-top box projected impressions of ‘modern’, ‘elegant’ and ‘unique’ brand imagery. Alternative pack shape and openings were identified as an effective means to communicate product attributes, particularly with regard to premium quality and smooth taste. Consumer studies consistently found that pack shape, size and opening style influenced perceptions of reduced product harm, and were often used to communicate a ‘lighter’ product. Slim, rounded, oval and booklet packs were found to be particularly appealing among young adults, and several studies demonstrated increased purchase interest for tobacco products presented in novel packaging shape or opening. Evidence from consumer tracking reports and company presentations indicate that pack innovations in shape or opening method increased market share of brands. CONCLUSIONS: Consumer research by the tobacco industry between 1973 and 2002 found that variations in packaging shape, size and opening method could influence brand appeal and risk perceptions and increase cigarette sales.
Tobacco companies rely on corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives to improve their public image and advance their political objectives, which include thwarting or undermining tobacco control policies. For these reasons, implementation guidelines for the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) recommend curtailing or prohibiting tobacco industry CSR. To understand how and where major tobacco companies focus their CSR resources, we explored CSR-related content on 4 US and 4 multinational tobacco company websites in February 2014. The websites described a range of CSR-related activities, many common across all companies, and no programs were unique to a particular company. The websites mentioned CSR activities in 58 countries, representing nearly every region of the world. Tobacco companies appear to have a shared vision about what constitutes CSR, due perhaps to shared vulnerabilities. Most countries that host tobacco company CSR programs are parties to the FCTC, highlighting the need for full implementation of the treaty, and for funding to monitor CSR activity, replace industry philanthropy, and enforce existing bans.
Hispanics are the fastest growing racial/ethnic group in the United States, and smoking is the leading preventable cause of morbidity and mortality among this population. We analyzed tobacco industry documents on R. J. Reynolds' marketing strategies toward the Hispanic population using tobacco industry document archives from the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library ( http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu ) between February-July 2011 and April-August 2012. Our analysis revealed that by 1980 the company had developed a sophisticated surveillance system to track the market behavior of Hispanic smokers and understand their psychographics, cultural values, and attitudes. This information was translated into targeted marketing campaigns for the Winston and Camel brands. Marketing targeted toward Hispanics appealed to values and sponsored activities that could be perceived as legitimating. Greater understanding of tobacco industry marketing strategies has substantial relevance for addressing tobacco-related health disparities. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print March 14, 2013: e1-e13. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2013.301256).