Thursday 22 March 2018

What exactly is the tobacco playbook?

A recent Guardian article portrayed bacon as the new smoking...

The meat industry’s tactics in defending bacon have been “right out of the tobacco industry’s playbook”, according to Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition and food studies at New York University.

No slippery slope there, then! But what exactly is 'the tobacco industry's playbook'? It's a phrase we hear a lot these days when campaigners are trying the poison the well against their perceived enemies. I've done a bit of searching and the tobacco playbook seems to be used by nearly everybody and includes nearly everything. Here's my top twenty...

1. Sporting associations being involved with medical organisations.

NFL’s partnership with CDC on head injuries is straight out of big tobacco’s playbook

2. Soft drink companies 'donating to adversarial health groups':

Big Soda is using Big Tobacco's playbook

A recent review found that in the past five years, Pepsi and Coke sponsored nearly 100 health-related organizations including the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and even The Obesity Society.

3. Booze companies lobbying:

A new study has found that Australian alcohol companies have successfully copied tactics straight out of the tobacco playbook to block the introduction of mandated pregnancy warning labels.

4. Mobile phone companies questioning whether their products cause brain cancer:

They have their response straight out of the big tobacco playbook and they use it. “Although we are constantly exploring the subject, currently there is no direct evidence that links cell phone usage to brain cancer.”

5. Advertising to men:

“That appeal to macho culture is straight out of the tobacco industry playbook. They are using a lot of the same tactics ... it’s targeting your kids, it’s often sexist and designed with the intent of creating the problem gamblers of tomorrow,” he said.

6. Advertising to anyone:

Old tobacco playbook gets new use with e-cigarette advertising 

The electronic cigarette ads push the same themes as old cigarette ads: sophistication, freedom, equality and individualism, said Timothy de Waal Malefyt, a visiting associate professor at Fordham University’s business school and former advertising executive.

7. Advertising e-cigarettes:

“As Big Tobacco corners the e-cigarette market, it is using e-cigarettes as a global PR scheme to gloss over its tarnished image, positioning itself as a‘solution’ to the problem it drives. In reality, the e-cigarette industry is taking advantage of the regulatory vacuum to employ the Big Tobacco playbook to hook a new generation on its products,” said John Stewart of the U.S.-based group Corporate Accountability International.

8. Distributing e-cigarettes:

Thirteen Members of Congress today called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take immediate action to protect young people from predatory e-cigarette marketing and distribution tactics that are straight out of big tobacco's playbook.

9. Hiring public relations firms:

Today, Big Soda faces the same PR challenges as Big Tobacco, and its PR strategy is straight out of the Big Tobacco playbook. In fact, the soda industry taps many of the same PR firms that helped Big Tobacco deceive the public for so long.

10. Taking legal action (about wording in a referendum on soda taxes):

“This lawsuit is straight out of Big Tobacco’s playbook that Big Soda is now using,” Martin Bourque, executive director of the nonprofit Ecology Center and a member of the Measure D campaign committee, said in an email.

11. Publishing peer-reviewed studies:

“This comes right out of the tobacco industry’s playbook: cast doubt on the science,” said Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University who studies conflicts of interest in nutrition research. “This is a classic example of how industry funding biases opinion. It’s shameful.”

12. Partnering with a non-profit organisation:

By partnering with a group that could otherwise be one of its staunchest critics, Walmart is taking a page right out of the Big Tobacco playbook: Buying silence.

13. Funding scientific research:

Taking a page right out of Big Tobacco’s playbook, five major beverage manufacturers are ponying up $67.7 million to prove that a glass of wine, beer or cocktail every day will increase one’s chances of avoiding a heart attack and live longer.

14. Supposedly advertising to children:

“Predatory marketing to children was the hallmark of Big Tobacco nearly two decades ago,” Madhusoodanan wrote in an e-mail. “McDonald’s and the fast food industry have taken a page right out of Big Tobacco’s playbook and are driving an epidemic of diet-related diseases by getting kids addicted to their junk food at a young age and building brand loyalties that last a lifetime.”

Read more here:

15. Paying CEOs a lot of money:

Sabet said the marijuana industry is taking "pages right out of the big tobacco playbook."
"I think no doubt we are going down the path of creating Big Tobacco 2.0," Sabet said. "When you look at the techniques of the marijuana industry, they downplay risks, they produce marijuana candies and other fun items, they fund research and political advocacy and most of all they are corporate CEOs poised to make millions, the comparison couldn't be more perfect."

16. Advertising to people while they do everyday tasks:

The editorial also compared the people behind “pot-peddling” to those who sell cigarettes. “Marketing pot to consumers while they carry out everyday tasks is right out of the old Big Tobacco playbook,” the piece stated.

17. Talking about personal choice:

Out of the tobacco playbook

Tactics employed by the food and drink industry to influence the public health debate are “identical” to those used by the tobacco industry 30 years ago, experts have warned.

“It’s exactly identical to tobacco,” said Professor Timothy Noakes, an authority on nutrition who has witnessed colleagues accepting funding from Coca-Cola and PepsiCo.

“The only difference is, in the past the public was not as aware as they are today of the dangers and benefits of different products. Now the companies have to be cleverer and they have to target scientists who are particularly influential.”

Both tobacco and junk food companies emphasise the importance of personal choice.

 18. Pointing out that regressive taxes are regressive:
Is the anti-sugar tax lobby taking a page from Big Tobacco’s playbook?

This week, the Institute of Race Relations became the latest organisation to attempt to discredit research showing that taxing sugary drinks could save lives in South Africa. Hofman cautions that attacks on the public health rationale behind the tax may be similar to ploys that health activists, particularly anti-tobacco campaigners, have seen before.

The institute questioned the rationale behind the proposed tax, arguing that it would only be a burden on the poor and would not reduce obesity.

Hofman has hit back, saying that the tobacco lobby spent years trying to discredit scientific research that revealed the dangers of smoking.

“This is a strategy from the tobacco playbook, in which they [the industry] tried to discredit peer-reviewed scientific research."

 19. Having a trade organisation:

Salt Industry Takes Page from Big Tobacco's Playbook

Remember the Tobacco Institute? The "research" organization set up by Big Tobacco that served mainly to obfuscate and distort what they and other scientists knew about the incredibly harmful effects of smoking?

Meet its reincarnation: the Salt Institute.

20. Borrowing from the oil industry:

Evidence Suggests the Oil Industry Wrote Big Tobacco's Playbook, Then Used It to Lie About Climate Change 

It has long been assumed that, in its efforts to deceive investors and the public about the negative impact its business has on the environment, Big Oil borrowed Big Tobacco's so-called tactical "playbook." But these documents indicate that infamous playbook appears to have actually originated within the oil industry itself.

I hope that's cleared things up.

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