Monday, February 13, 2006

Naughty but nice - Philip Morris' Arise

Kudos to Monbiot, writing for the Guardian. He exposes a wonderful tobacco company scam -- using a front company called Arise to secretly fund European "scientists" to write about joys of tobacco addiction:
Guardian Unlimited | Science | Exposed: the secret corporate funding behind health research

... In 1998, as part of a settlement of a class action against the tobacco companies in the US, the firms were obliged to place their internal documents in a public archive. Among them is the one I came across last month. It is a memo from an executive in the corporate services department of Philip Morris - the world's largest tobacco company - to one of her colleagues. The title is "Arise 1994-95 Activities and Funding". "I had a meeting," she began, "with Charles Hay and Jacqui Smithson (Rothmans) to agree on the 1994-1995 activity plan for Arise and to discuss the funding needed. Enclosed is a copy of our presentation."

This showed that in the previous financial year Arise had received $373,400: $2,000 from Coca-Cola, $900 from other firms and the rest - over 99% - from Philip Morris, British American Tobacco, RJ Reynolds and Rothmans. In 1994-95 its budget would be $773,750. Rothmans and RJ Reynolds had each committed to provide $200,000, and BAT "has also shown interest". She suggested that Philip Morris put up $300,000. Then the memo becomes even more interesting.

"The previous 'Naughty but Nice' Mori poll proved to be very effective in getting wide media coverage. The exercise will be repeated this year on the theme of 'Stress in the Workplace' ... A draft questionnaire was already submitted to [Tony Andrade, Philip Morris's senior lawyer] and [Matt Winokur, its director of regulatory affairs] for comments." "We decided to hold" Arise's next conference in Europe, it continued, because of "positive European media coverage". Philip Morris had appointed a London PR agency to run the media operation, set up Arise's secretariat and help to recruit new members. Arise's "major spending authorisation and approval would be handled by an 'informal' Budget Committee involving PM, Rothmans and possibly RJR and BAT".
It was a very successful venture, generating tons of friendly European press. I cannot help but admire the sheer evil genius Philip Morris so often shows. They have the marketing department from Hell (perhaps literally?). It's like watching particularly effective black widow spider devouring its failed mates.

One Professor Warburton has finally had his reputation completely savaged. A small bit of justice long delayed.

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