Philip Morris: “Get sick children on Oprah”

In 1993, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officially listed secondhand tobacco smoke as a Group A Human Carcinogen, the same rating the agency gives to asbestos, radon gas and vinyl chloride. The listing was a public relations disaster for the tobacco industry, and their internal documents show how tobacco companies reacted. A 6-page Philip Morris planning document found in the files of Ted Lattanzio (Director of Philip Morris Worldwide Regulatory Affairs), lists strategies and budgets for fighting efforts to ban smoking in workplaces and public places.  Page 4 describes a strategy for dealing with public information about how childrens’ health is disproportionately affected by exposure to secondhand smoke:

“Shift the debate on ETS [environmental tobacco smoke] and children to: Are our schools and day care centers making children sick?”

Tactics proposed for making the public believe that schools and day care centers are making children sick (instead of secondhand smoke) include:

“Feed available information to National School Board Association in D.C.  Feed information to Oprah, et. al. Get sick children on the shows.  Research newspaper clippings of parents who keep children at home because of school environment — pass those on.  Why?  Shift the debate.  Why is EPA not spending research dollars on solving school problem?? I have the research budget for next year — not very much is going to identify or solve the school problem.  Get information to EPA Watch.”

Philip Morris’ estimated budget for the effort to blame day care facilities for making children sick was $100,000.

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