Archive of working materials from the tenure of the Tobacco Institute's Vice President of Public Relations, in office during the industry's last great stand against the health and welfare of the American public.
Archive of Tobacco Industry Lobbying Materials
"The belief that advertising creates desire or 'wants' is probably a myth."<br /><br />"The anti-smoking lobby has never proved its charge...The truth about what causes cancer, and many other diseases, is still unknown."
Comprehensive and illuminating collection of behind-the-scenes tobacco industry strategic and research materials from the estate of the onetime chief pollster for Lyndon Johnson and later VP of PR for the Tobacco Institute (TI) Fred Panzer. His chronologically arranged collection of industry documents and internal correspondence fills 15 binders, and dates from 1972 through 1981, while his library of research materials also includes materials published through the 1980s into the early 1990s, as described in detail below.
Panzer was involved in or directly responsible for much of TI's legislative lobbying and its efforts to create effective, and misleading, public relations campaigns in the face of clear and urgent warnings from the Surgeon General and the medical establishment at large regarding the health dangers of both smoking and secondhand exposure. Most notoriously, Panzer was the author of the 1972 Roper Proposal, which detailed a "holding strategy" for "creating doubt about the health charge without actually denying it." The documents in this archive lay out the full development of this internal document, the polls and research leading to it, as well as the memorandum itself. As a rising tide of awareness made continued obfuscation untenable and unsustainable — Panzer compared widespread smoking to the Vietnam War in this regard, arguing that the public cannot be held in a neutral position indefinitely — TI pivoted to funding and boosting studies implicating air pollution and lifestyle factors ("patterns of life") as primary reasons for illness among smokers. Through the 1980s, materials in this archive focus heavily on opposition to taxation of tobacco products, opposition to proposed rules for cigarette label warnings, and opposition to restrictions on advertising. Included are five mock-ups of theoretical threats to the content of cigarette and alcohol print ads, labeled "Luken Bill" (a 1990 House proposal to restrict advertising to text only) or "Synar Bill" (a 1986 proposal to ban cigarette advertising on billboards and in print altogether).
From the vast amount of documentation collected here — much of it disclosed publicly in the course of lawsuits against the tobacco industry — a few parts of the industry's evolving PR strategy stand out:
1. Panzer, in cooperation with the executives and politicians for whom he drafted speeches and leading questions for congressional hearings, floated several trial balloons for a "little project" explicitly comparing the then-new idea of nonsmoking sections on airplanes to racial segregation. This evolved from a draft witness question ("[W]hat do you think of the government's growing tendency to restrict persons who smoke to back of the airplane, or bus?") to a speech decrying "a new form of segregation to be imposed on millions of his fellow citizens, not because of race, color, religion, or national origin — but simply because they choose to be cigarette smokers." This line of persuasion appealed so much to (the mostly white and Southern) TI executives that a request (original included) was then sent to Panzer asking him to draft a letter from a Philip Morris director "in which she would point out that it has taken generations for black travelers to win their choice of seat in public conveyances, and the idea of losing is repugnant..."
2. Furthermore, throughout the time the industry employed this rhetoric, Panzer and the TI were well aware of the disproportionate and devastating health impact of smoking on Black Americans and the substandard medical treatment offered to them by a biased system of care providers. Included in this archive is Panzer's copy of the 1979 House Health Subcommittee hearing report on "Cancer Mortality Among Black Americans," paperclipped and underlined in red to zero in on key points — and on any openings for the industry to defend itself by deflecting blame onto "lifestyle factors" and other unknowns: stress, occupational exposure, systemic racism in the health care industry (i.e., anything but cigarette smoking and the particular marketing strategies employed by tobacco companies).
3. Panzer-authored public speeches of the 1970s also leaned heavily on defining tobacco use as a fundamental question of individual liberty versus "do-good Big Brotherism." Thus, individual liberty to harm others through exposure to known carcinogens, for a little temporary physical relief, must outweigh the individual liberty of those others to remain healthy and alive. That message, applicable to so many health crises, continues to play well in some quarters in the present day.
Accompanying these drafts, memos, reports, and correspondence is Panzer's research library, most of which falls into the following categories: A) Reports from the Surgeon General and numerous GPO-printed congressional hearing reports on tobacco product advertising and additive regulation, proposed taxation, and health impacts; along with numerous reports to Congress published by various governmental departments. Several of these bear Panzer's own notes and underlining; B) Scientific studies, both psychological and medical, including Dunn's SMOKING BEHAVIOR: MOTIVES AND INCENTIVES (1973), presented to Panzer with the compliments of the Philip Morris general counsel; and C) Publications by the Tax Institute and by the Tobacco Institute itself, promoting TI-funded studies and perspectives. A detailed list of included books and publications is available on request.
A remarkable and remarkably comprehensive archive of the inner workings of Big Tobacco's marketing and public relations efforts in the final decades of smoking's broader cultural acceptance.
[Washington D.C.]: n.p. / [Various], [ca. 1972 - ca. 1990]. Archive containing: 15 black ring binders of original and photocopied documents and correspondence, arranged chronologically; approximately 50 books (including corporate and governmental publications); two VHS tapes titled "Tobacco Ad Bans: The Larger Issues," dated 1987; five TI-produced advertising mock-ups; 1988 Corporate Affairs Issues Handbook (large blue ring binder); and assorted printed materials from the Tobacco Institute, the Tax Foundation, and related organizations. In total, approximately eight linear feet.
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