Tobacco at the Movies

Despite a 1998 multi-state tobacco settlement banning tobacco companies from marketing directed toward children and banning payments to place tobacco products in films, tobacco use in the most popular youth-oriented movies has increased by 50 percent, according to a new report. "Tobacco at the Movies" highlights the health risks to children, who are susceptible to the subtle message sent by famous actors and actresses using tobacco on the big screen.


Philip Morris Uses "Account Masking"

In an effort to distance itself from the stench of its reputation as the world's worst tobacco company, Philip Morris recently changed its name to "Altria." To guard the new name against parodies, the company then sneakily bought up the domain name registration for "" Bret Fausett,


The Pitch by Big Tobacco

Columnist Steve Barnes describes his chat with David Howard, a "very nice young gentleman" who flacks for R.J. Reynolds. The Arkansas state legislature is considering an increase in cigarette excise taxes, and Howard belongs to a "cadre of public relations specialists with the seemingly impossible job of persuading the 75 percent of Arkansans who do not smoke cigarettes that the 25 percent who do should not pay more for their habit."


Hollywood's Responsibility for Smoking Deaths

"I have been an accomplice to the murders of untold numbers of human beings," writes Joe Eszterhas, the author of movie megahits such as Flashdance and Basic Instinct. "I am admitting this only because I have made a deal with God. Spare me, I said, and I will try to stop others from committing the same crimes I did." His crime? Making smoking look "cool and glamorous ... an integral part of many of my screenplays." Eszterhas says his moral awakening came after he was diagnosed with throat cancer, "the result of a lifetime of smoking. I am alive but maimed.


Tobacco Scams the Restaurant Industry

For years the tobacco industry has been using restaurant trade associations as front groups in its battle to keep Americans puffing. Now this strategy is documented on a new web site hosted by the University of California-San Franciso. "If Big Tobacco can't buy hospitality groups to serve as fronts, it sets up its own," the site states. Examples include the "California Business and Restaurant Alliance" and the ""Beverly Hills Restaurant Association" (created by a Tobacco Institute PR firm).


Philip Morris Offers Advice on Corporate Responsibility

"Even the executive from Philip Morris Companies Inc., the parent company of the largest cigarette maker in the United States, couldn't ignore the irony that he had been scheduled to speak about corporate responsibility," writes Marc Levy in an Associated Press report on a speech delivered on Monday by PM vice president David Greenberg.


British American Tobacco Promotes Its "Corporate Social Responsibility"; Critic Say It's Just PR

"British American Tobacco (BAT) has vowed to plow on with its corporate social responsibility program (CSR) -- despite criticism that its first-ever CSR report is simply a PR exercise," PR Week writes. BAT's released its CSR report last week "after a series of face-to-face forums designed to establish dialogue with its critics." But according to PR Week, more than 130 organizations targeted by BAT refused to participate in the dialogue.


A Swedish Scientist on the Tobacco Payroll

Ragnar Rylander, a respected Swedish scientist, has been doing research on the connections between environmental tobacco smoke and lung disease, research that has been secretly funded by the tobacco company Philip Morris. Rylander has been accused of manipulating his studies to suit tobacco interests, and of thus partaking in a "scientific fraud without precedent."


Big Tobacco Spied on Health Groups

The Fleishman Hillard PR firm secretly tape-recorded the sessions of an anti-tobacco group as part of an effort in the 1990s by the tobacco industry to get materials about public health groups under false pretenses, according to a report in the June issue of the American Journal of Public Health.



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