Tobacco Advisory Council

From Powerbase
Jump to: navigation, search

Tobacco Advisory Council (TAC) was a British tobacco industry trade and lobbying group that served as the U.K. equivalent of the Tobacco Institute in the U.S.

TAC primarily operated to delay and obstruct tobacco control legislation and preserve the social acceptability of smoking. Member companies included the Gallaher, British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco, and Rothmans Tobacco. TAC engaged in various programs and activities aimed at confusing the public about the scientific consensus that secondhand smoke harms the health of nonsmokers. The public relations company Daniel J. Edelman Ltd. (now known as Edelman), assisted TAC and in 1987 prepared a proposal, "Managing the ETS [Environmental Tobacco Smoke] Issue" that stated the overall strategy was to "maintain doubt" about the health effects of secondhand smoke "principally via third parties." [1]

Minutes of a 1979 meeting of a subcommittee of the Tobacco Advisory Council describe plans to set up the smokers' rights group FOREST (an acronym that stands for "Freedom Organisation for the Right To Enjoy Smoking Tobacco"). FOREST was to act as product-free, arm's length lobbying group for the tobacco industry with no apparent ties to tobacco companies. [2] In the meeting, members of the tobacco industry rehearsed how they would distance themselves from the group when answering press inquiries about FOREST after its launch, saying "T.A.C. should reply that while they were aware of its existence, [the industry] had no connection with the new organization...]. " The General Manager of Public Affairs at Gallaher Tobacco stated that "his company should reply that FOREST was an independent organisation, that it seemed a good idea for it to support smokers and that the company provided financial support and nothing more." [3] FOREST was supposed to appear to the public to be independent from the industry, but it derived its funding almost completely from tobacco companies and their allies.

This type of "smokers rights" front group activity by the British tobacco industry preceded similar activity by U.S. tobacco companies, such as R.J. Reynolds' "Partisan Project" (c. 1987) and Philip Morris' National Smokers Alliance (c. 1993).

Targeting Blair

Now, previously unpublished documents show that Blair, a former smoker, had been targeted by the tobacco industry for almost 15 years. The industry conducted a series of meetings while Blair was a shadow minister and these continued when he entered Number 10.
In 1991 the Prime Minister, then an MP, was included on a list of politicians, journalists and other key opinion formers who were viewed as 'friendly' towards the Tobacco Advisory Council (TAC), the pan-industry group that represents the interests of the cigarette firms and set up the pressure group Forest (Freedom of the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco).
The list, headlined with the words 'Subject: target list advertising campaign newsletter', was drawn up on 23 August, 1991, by the lobbying and public relations firm, Edelman, on behalf of the TAC. It was sent to executives working for four cigarette companies, Gallaher, Rothmans, Imperial and British American Tobacco and identified people who might support its campaign to derail the European Commission's plans to outlaw tobacco advertising.
Blair, and the current Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin, were included under the headline 'TAC friendly MPs', along with scores of other, chiefly Conservative politicians, journalists such as Auberon Waugh of the Telegraph and Richard Littlejohn of the Sun, and members of the Commons Pipe Smokers Club. One person who helped draw up the list said Blair may have been included because he had been tacitly supportive of the tobacco lobby's 'freedom to choose' campaign.
However, a Downing Street spokeswoman said: 'This list was put together by a lobbying firm to impress its clients. We know of no evidence that the Prime Minister has ever taken an interest in this issue.' (Source)


External Links