Category: Corporations

Legal Marijuana and Big Tobacco

Will this soon be the new reality in Colorado and Washington?

Will this soon be the new reality in Colorado and Washington?

Recreational use of marijuana is now legal in Colorado and Washington state. People can possess up to an ounce of marijuana and smoke it on private property without fear of legal punishment. Tobacco companies predicted this moment would come and have been preparing for liberalized marijuana laws since the last cultural shift occurred around pot in the 1970s.

Notes from a 1976 “Problem Laboratory” (brainstorming) session of Lorillard Tobacco Company’s advertising employees in April 1976 mention marijuana. Members of the group were encouraged to present their goals and wishes in the form of “How To” and “I wish” statements. Participants were instructed to come up all kinds of ideas, even ones that were illegal, immoral or non-feasible (all of which makes this document particularly fascinating and insightful). With all need to appear decent and moral removed, these employees were able to express their most sincere and ambitious wishes and desires for their products:

In Session #1 participants were asked to identify ways to give smokers more perceived value in their cigarettes.  Ideas expressed by the group included Idea #38: “How to have a cigarette with MJ [marijuana] added to it.” While we’re there, other entertaining items include Idea #50: “How to make it so addictive: one cigarette and you’ve got him for life,” and (#51), “How to have a cigarette specifically for children (sparkler additive candy).” Even more: “How to have an aphrodisiac [in cigarettes],” “How to make cigarettes more like Linus’ blanket,” and “How [to use cigarettes to] deliver birth control (for men).”

Thousands Protest at ALEC’s 40th Annual Meeting in Chicago

Police tangle with protesters at ALEC's 40th Annual Meeting at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago in August.

Police tangle with protesters at ALEC’s 40th Annual Meeting at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago in August.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) held its 40th annual meeting earlier this month at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago, drawing a crowd of about 3,000 protesters.  ALEC is a conservative bill mill that masquerades as an educational nonprofit. ALEC holds meetings in tony resorts and at fancy hotels, where it provides corporate lobbyists with face time with thousands of state legislators over dinners, happy hours, tennis, golf and other activities. Corporate representatives draft the “model bills’ they prefer, and at ALEC meetings, hand them off to legislators, who then take them home and introduce the bills in their own state legislatures as if they were their own ideas.  The public is not allowed to weigh in during any phase of the drafting of any of ALEC’s so-called “model bills.” The prime sponsor of ALEC’s 40th annual meeting was tobacco giant Reynolds American, who ponied up $100,000 for the honor. $50,000-level sponsors include ExxonMobil, the Cigar Association of America, Inc., Peabody Energy, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a front group for coal companies. Other sponsors include CenturyLink, UPS, Pharma, Cloud Peak Energy, TransCanada and BNSF Railways. ALEC is responsible for the proliferation of “Stand Your Ground” laws, the type of law that permitted George Zimmerman to kill Trayvon Martin, an unarmed African-American Florida teen, and get away without any punishment. About two dozen states how have such “shoot first” laws. Many  protesters at ALEC’s Chicago meeting wore hoodies and with targets on their chests and backs that said “Stand Your Ground.” Activists unfurled huge banners inside the Palmer hotel that said “ALEC makes For-Profit Prisons,” “Moral Monday – NO to ALEC” and “ALEC Attacks All Workers.” The peaceful protest turned violent after Chicago police rushed into the crowd and started arresting people and beating them to the ground.  Photos of the protests can be seen here.

Citizens Picket Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce

Grand Junction citizens protested in front of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce yesterday morning. The group, Rein in The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, represents citizens who are angry about the Chamber’s controlling involvement in City politics. In 2012 the G.J. Chamber, under its president, Diane Schwenke, seized control of council after it formed a 501(c)(4) “social welfare” organization that raked in donations from deep-pocketed business owners and spent historically huge amounts of money to get Chamber-selected candidates elected to city council.  Prior to the Chamber’s direct involvement in local politics, no city council candidate had ever spent more than about $3,400 on an election. This year, Chamber-backed candidates spent an average of $11,000 each. A recent feature article in the local paper, the Daily Sentinel, revealed that the G.J. Chamber is spending huge amounts on lobbying compared to similarly-sized chambers around the state, and that at $133,930, G.J. Chamber President Schwenke’s compensation package far exceeds the compensation her peers earn at similar-sized chambers around the state.

Photo credit: Christopher Tomlinson/Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

Photo credit: Christopher Tomlinson/Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

R.J. Reynolds Puts Cigarette “Pilferage in Perspective”

Equation from RJR documents shows retailers could make more money if they let cigarettes be stolen than by preventing theft by locking them up.

Equation on page -9000 of RJR marketing document shows retailers could make more money if they let cigarettes be stolen than by preventing theft by locking them up.

In September, 1985 ,R. J. Reynolds created a sales presentation about shoplifting called “Pilferage in Perspective,” to try and talk retailers out of the “knee jerk reaction” of moving their cigarettes out of reach of customers in response to high rates of pilferage. The document shows how, in most cases, retailers could make a bigger profit if they let their cigarettes be stolen, due to the industry-paid “placement,” “merchandising” or “slotting fees.” Tobacco companies paid these fees, which were often sizable, to retailers in exchange for placing self-service cigarette displays in specific locations in stores like  in front of the cash register, below counter level or adjacent to displays containing candy and toys. The displays were often required to be kept in locations that made it difficult for clerks to oversee them and limit shoplifting from them. Many clerks expressed profound frustration with the arrangement, since they were often held responsible for  stolen merchandise. The RJR document contains equations that demonstrate for retailers how their slotting fees more than offset their loss from theft.  

Brainard Episode Exposes Chamber Plot to Seize Political Control of Grand Junction

Grand Junction citizens protest in front of the Chamber of Commerce. The blue sign says "GJ Chamber endorses violence."

Grand Junction citizens protest outside the Chamber of Commerce. The blue sign says “GJ Chamber endorses violence.”

Rick Brainard’s election to the Grand Junction City Council and subsequent arrest for assault and harassment have appalled and galvanized City residents, but it’s also raised awareness of a sea change happening in Grand Junction politics right now that would otherwise have gone little-noticed. City Councilman Tom Kenyon alluded to it when he told the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel the day after the election that “This election was very different” from others. “It was very organized,” Kenyon said, “It felt like they were out to get you. They raised a lot of money.”

Kenyon was right. This election was very different from previous local elections. That’s because, thanks to the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce, a new group has appeared in town that has vowed to take a “proactive role” in setting local public policy. Translation? That group has vowed to take control of the City of Grand Junction. That group is the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce’s newly-created 501(c)4 political arm, the Western Colorado Business Alliance (WCBA), which exerted its muscle in the last election to seize control of Grand Junction’s City Council.

BP’s Deepwater Horizon Cover-Up

Studies have found oil/Corexit® residue accelerates the absorption of toxins into the skin. The results aren’t visible under normal light (top), but the contamination into the skin appear as fluorescent spots under UV light (bottom). Photo Credit: James H “Rip” Kirby III, Surfrider Foundation

Studies have found oil/Corexit® residue accelerates the absorption of toxins into the skin. The results aren’t visible under normal light (top), but contamination that has worked its way into the skin appears as fluorescent spots under UV light (bottom). Photo Credit: James H “Rip” Kirby III, Surfrider Foundation

Newsweek magazine published a scathing expose’ this week about BP’s behind-the-scenes efforts to limit what the public saw and understood about the company’s disastrous 2010 Deepwater Horizon gulf oil spill.  BP assured thousands of fishermen, on-shore residents and workers they hired to help with spill cleanup operations that the proprietary oil dispersant they used called “Corexit” was as safe as dish soap, but people exposed to the Corexit/oil mixture subsequently fell ill with a range symptoms that mimic Gulf War Syndrome, including muscle spasms that rendered their hands unusable, neurological problems like short term memory loss, painful skin inflammation and breathing problems. A Government Accountability Project (GAP) investigation done after the fact found BP purposely withheld manufacturer’s safety manuals for Corexit from the fishermen and other workers. In interviews after the disaster, cleanup workers said BP had threatened to fire any workers who complained about the lack of protective clothing and respirators. Airplanes spraying Corexit also indiscriminately sprayed the substance over the fishing boats BP hired to help contain the spill, exposing the fishermen to multiple doses of the chemicals. Nineteen months after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, the peer-reviewed scientific journal Environmental Pollution published a study that found that crude oil becomes 52 times more toxic when mixed with Corexit than it would otherwise be if left alone.  GAP representatives asked BP to pay for the medical treatment of victims of Corexit-and-crude poisoning but BP has refused. BP’s cover up demonstrates the huge amount of power corporations wield and the inability or unwillingness of governments to restrict that power. Eleven people were killed in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, but no one has yet faced any criminal charges. What’s worse, the BP spill and its after-effects haven’t prompted any changes in public policy towards big corporations and their activities. It’s as though the U.S. government has gleaned no wisdom at all from the disaster and BP’s subsequent actions.

Source: Newsweek, “What BP Doesn’t Want You to Know about the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill,” April 22, 2013 (Accompanying photo is from the University of South Florida study “Findings of Persistency of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Residual Tar Product Sourced from Crude Oil Released During the Deepwater Horizon M252 Spill of National Significance,” [PDF], April 14, 2012)

Kroger-Owned City Market’s Fake “Your Health Matters” Ad Campaign

Can you count the number of lies in this sign?

Can you count the number of lies in this sign?

Recently City Market grocery stores, a chain owned by Kroger Company, started running billboards in Grand Junction, Colorado that say “Your health matters to us.” The ads boast that City Markets have dietitians, pharmacies, “natural and organic” foods, “health centers” and “NuVal,” a scoring program that ranks the nutritional value of some foods they sell on a scale of 1 to 100.  I called a local City Market store to find out how to get in touch with one of their dietitians but was told they didn’t really have any. “It’s misleading,” said Pansy Hubbard, a Grand Junction City Market service counter employee, about the billboard campaign. She said there aren’t any registered dietitians at any of the Grand Junction stores.  People with a computer and an Internet connection can find their way to Kroger’s website, where, if you dig a little you can find links to email addresses of dietitians, but the inference that City Markets have dietitians available at their stores is patently false, at least in our area. But the stores’ claim about dietitians isn’t even the most misleading part of the ad.  The biggest thing that negates City Market’s claim that “Your health matters to us” is that all their stores knowingly continue to sell a product that is well-known to kill hundreds of thousands of Americans every year: cigarettes. Cigarettes are a known addictive and deadly product, and City Market makes lots of money off them despite what they do to peoples’ health.  This makes it very clear that money is what matters to City Market and the Kroger Company, not their customers’ health.

Some other store chains besides Kroger/City Market can now make a more honest case that they care about their customers’ health. Target stores, for example, stopped selling cigarettes chain-wide in 1996, and are still very much in business. Other stores that truly promote healthy lifestyles have quit selling cigarettes and said publicly that selling tobacco products is not conducive to their pro-health mission.

They are absolutely right.

Petition: Require Lawmakers to Wear Logos of Financial Backers on their Clothing

Suggested attire for members of the House and Senate

Petition’s suggested attire for members of the House and Senate

A new petition appeared on the Obama administration’s “We the People” web site March 18 asking that members of the Congress and Senate be required to wear the logos of their financial backers on their clothing, NASCAR style. The petition says, “Since most politicians’ campaigns are largely funded by wealthy companies and individuals, it would give voters a better sense of who the candidate they are voting for is actually representing if the company’s logo, or individual’s name, was prominently displayed upon the candidate’s clothing at all public appearances and campaign events. Once elected, the candidate would be required to continue to wear those ‘sponsor’s’ names during all official duties and visits to constituents. The size of a logo or name would vary with the size of a donation. For example, a $1 million dollar contribution would warrant a patch of about 4″ by 8″ on the chest, while a free meal from a lobbyist would be represented by a quarter-sized button. Individual donations under $1000 are exempt.” Some people have commented that the NASCAR-style clothing requirement would break Congress’s dress code, but the code only requires a coat and tie for men and “appropriate” dress for women. Others say members of Congress and the Senate would have to wear floor-length robes, perhaps with trains, to accommodate all of their corporate backers. So far, the Congressmen-in-NASCAR-clothing petition has gathered 9,378 signatures in just four days. The Obama Administration has raised the number of signatures needed to get a response on a petition to100,000 within 30 days, up from 25,000. The petition can be seen (and signed) here.

Main source: Huffington Post, March 20, 2013

 

Philip Morris’ “Qualitative Image Study Saudi Arabia”

Screen shot 2013-03-12 at 11.11.54 PM Screen shot 2013-03-12 at 11.12.09 PMThis 1993 Philip Morris marketing research report evaluates Marlboro advertising to find ways to make the imagery more appealing to young Saudi Arabian men. The idea was to find out what emotional, psychological and cultural needs and values young male Saudis have, and then determine how PM could exploit these in their cigarette advertising. Page 39 of the document (Bates No. 2501055413) reports on reactions of Saudi men to a Marlboro ad that depicted three cowboys leaning on a fence and talking. The middle cowboy held a coiled rope in his hand.  The report says, “Values disliked [about this ad] were…the ropes, which gave uncomfortable feeling — ropes are used to bind people and hang them in Saudi Arabia.” In many places, the report generalizes about Saudi men’s tendencies toward violence, in one place noting “the private face of violence noted in the Arab personality.” Another passage in this vein reads,

“There is a strong thread of violence just below the surface of the Arab personality, linked to ideas of vengeance and the protection of property (including women) but there is at the same time a desire to suppress this in favour of the more acceptable public face of masculinity, which is more calm and controlled.”

The report defines values of Saudi men:

“The aspiration for them is very definitely to have friends who have status and wealth – and especially a big car.  Belonging to such a peer group, even if you do not personally have the wealth, enables you to enjoy the reflected status.  Cigarettes it seems are often shared, and within the peer group there is also pressure to smoke the same brand…”

A brief discussion of smoking and health in the report reveals that a belief existed among Saudi men that certain types of cigarettes were “healthier” than others, and indicates that Saudi smokers may, at that time, have lacked key information about smoking and health in general:

“There is ample evidence that smoking is regarded [among Saudis] as harmful, although this was not expressed directly, it was indirectly through the description of the personality of brands…For Marlboro Red smokers, if you smoke a light cigarette, then you are not strong/healthy enough to be able to smoke a strong cigarette.  For Marlboro Lights smokers, if you smoke a strong cigarette, then you are stupid, ignorant.”

While it is not surprising that a corporation would do this type of research in an effort to tailor its advertising to appeal to foreign cultures, by the time this document was written (1993) tobacco use had already long been labeled by authorities worldwide as a major public health problem.  Despite this, PM continued to emphasize spreading the use of tobacco in foreign countries, as well as in the U.S.  It is also interesting to see how American cigarette companies scrutinize foreign cultures from a marketing standpoint, to pinpoint the emotional and psychological needs and held by people of these cultures to find ways of better exploiting them.

Source:  Qualitative Image Study: Saudi Arabia, Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, Philip Morris collection, Bates No. 2501055375/5464

Brown & Williamson Young Adult Male Creative: “Roger Rhu”

henpeckedThis 1987 Brown & Williamson marketing memo recommends a theme for an advertising campaign to sell a new brand of cigarettes to young adult, blue-collar males who are stuck in boring, repetitive union jobs.  A disdainful concept of the blue collar worker pervades the piece, and forms a theme that is repeated throughout.

The proposal reads:

“Roger Rhu…is depicted as the outdoorsman. The fresh-water fisherman of mid-America and the prototypical blue-collar, larder-enhancing sport hunter. Primary images show him on location in the early morning, backgrounded by chums.  Accompanied by hounds, sometimes in, on or near his old ‘pick up,’ in the mist or midst of primeval America, readying for, or resting after, pursuit of his quarry.”

When not in the field, “Roger Rhu” would tie flies, clean his weapons, pan-fry steelheads (fish) and “show the taxidermists a thing or two.”

Ultra-Processed Food, Drink Driving Global Epidemic of Non-Communicable Disease

obesity-evolutionIn 2011, the United Nations convened a high-level meeting to address the  global burden of non-communicable diseases. Participants concluded that unhealthy commodities, specifically tobacco, alcohol and ultra-processed food and drink, are the major drivers behind the growing global epidemic of non-communicable diseases. Ultra-processed foods are those made from substances extracted from whole foods and the cheapest parts of remnants of animal foods. The contain little or no whole foods. Examples of ultra-processed foods include fats and oils, flour and starches, variants of sugar and products made from meat scraps and ground meat remnants, like hamburgers, chicken nuggets, fish sticks, frozen pizza, cereal bars, biscuits, carbonated and other sugary drinks and many snack products. What’s more, sugar is now being included as a major hidden ingredient in foods that people generally do not think contain much sugar. For example, he New York Times reported February 20 that a single serving of Yoplait yogurt now has twice much sugar per serving as General Mill’s marshmallow cereal Lucky Charms, but people still think of yogurt as a healthy snack. Just half a cup of Prego Traditional spaghetti sauce now contains the equivalent of more than two teaspoons of sugar — more than the sugar contained in two Oreo cookies. The group found that transnational corporations are the major drivers of non-communicable disease epidemics like obesity, that the alcohol and ultra-processed food and drink industries are now using similar strategies to the tobacco industry to undermine public health policies and programs aimed at limiting their spread and use. The panel concluded that these industries should not be given a role in creating international policy to address non-communicable diseases, and called for public regulation and market intervention to prevent the harm caused by these products and industries. The top five food companies contributing to the epidemic in the U.S. are 1) Kraft Foods, 2) PepsiCo, 3) Nestle’, 4) Mars and 5) Kellogg.  One major rule people can follow to avoid becoming obese? According to Michael Pollan, one of the best-known names in food-related issues, don’t eat any foods you’ve ever seen advertised on TV.

Main source: The Lancet, Profits and pandemics: prevention of harmful effects of tobacco alcohol and ultra-processed food and drink industries, published online February 12, 2013

Gun Maker Freaks Out, Retaliates Against Colorado Gun Safety Bill

Magpul's Internet Ad

Magpul’s Internet Ad

Magpul Industries of Erie, Colorado, which makes and sells  high-capacity ammunition magazines, has declared war on Colorado over a gun safety bill currently moving through the state’s legislature. HB 1224, currently in Colorado’s House of Representatives, would limit high-capacity magazines to 15 rounds, and add a more restrictive 8-round limit for shotguns. Magpul makes 30-round magazines. Magpul threatened to move its business out of state if the bill passes. The House then voted to amend HB 1224 to allow Magpul to keep making its high-capacity magazines and selling them in other states, but that wasn’t enough for the company.  Magpul launched an Internet-based campaign to flood the state with high-capacity, military-grade magazines and weaponry in advance of a vote on the bill. Magpul posted a cold-war style ad on its Facebook page announcing that the company will sell up to ten 30-round AR or M4 ammunition magazines per customer directly to Colorado residents, and will expedite shipping for a discounted price of just $5.00. The ad shows a little girl with pigtails, smiling and reaching up to catch 30-round gun magazines as they are dropped, airlift-style, from an airplane. The copy reads, “In the battle for Colorado Freedoms, support for second amendment rights is being delivered by Magpul Industries Corporation. Fielded in the millions by US and its allies since 2007, the PMAG is the magazine of choice for those defending freedom and democracy around the world…Now, with the ability of Coloradans to purchase new standard capacity magazines in jeopardy, Magpul Industries is working to supply as many as possible to the good people of Colorado. Similar to the Berlin Airlift, the Boulder Airlift will bring much-needed gun supplies to freedom-loving residents trapped inside occupied territory.” In addition to high-capacity magazines, Magpul also makes rifle grips, buttstocks, rifle sights, gun mounts and other gun-related parts and accessories. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has said he will sign the bill if it makes it to his desk. Colorado has a history of gun massacres, including the Aurora Theater massacre in 2012, the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, and the Chuck E. Cheese massacre in 1993, also in Aurora, Colorado, in which a gunman killed four restaurant employees.

Who Funds Rick Berman’s Dark Money Group, the “Center for Consumer Freedom”?

Center for Consumer Freedom's Rick Berman, a.k.a. "Dr. Evil"

Center for Consumer Freedom’s Rick Berman, a.k.a. “Dr. Evil”

Rick Berman, the D.C. beltway corporate lobbyist who revels in the nickname “Dr. Evil,” is at it again, this time defending a dangerous New Hampshire “ag-gag” bill that would block the ability to build solid court cases against animal cruelty in commercial agricultural operations. Berman also penned an opinion piece in the Boston Globe opposing the “Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act,” a bill that would require federal agencies to buy food products only from farms that raise animals free from cruelty and abuse. Aside from the underlying question of why the Boston Globe would print anything by Rick Berman, a corporate sell-out who lacks completely in credibility, why does Berman persist in supporting something as distasteful and horrifically unpopular as animal abuse?

Berman operates the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCR), an industry-funded front group that relentlessly attacks do-good organizations like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Berman uses over-the-top rhetoric, calling people who research and expose the causes behind obesity “food control zealots.” He uses hyperbole and slippery-slope arguments, saying animal welfare groups like the Humane Society are “fighting to get rid of every dairy, pork, egg, beef, veal, and poultry farm across America by increasing the cost of production and hence increasing the price of food.” Hogwash. Whenever possible, HSUS works with commercial ag operations to reduce animal abuses like tail-docking of dairy cows and confinement of animals in horribly small spaces. The groups has been successful in doing so, but does pursue legislation to protect animals, too.

Documents Show Philip Morris Yielded to Scientific Blackmail

This tobacco industry document from the Philip Morris collection is a translation of a letter written by a German scientist named Dietrich Schmaehl, who was performing biological research for Philip Morris in 1979 in a quest to find a “safer cigarette.” Schmaehl was doing experiments to determine the carcinogenic effect of the smoke condensates, so-called “tar,” from specific brands of cigarettes.  Philip Morris performed such research overseas to help prevent any findings from being discoverable in American courts.

Philip Morris had threatened to cut off funding for Schmaehl’s research.  After finding this out, Schmael wrote to PM consulting scientist Dr. Franz Adlkofer (presumably his boss), saying, “In our conversation it was argued that the Industry could not support such experiments since this might prove that the previously manufactured products have a carcinogenic effect and that such experiments could especially not be supported because they would be financed with Industry funds.  I am totally unable to follow these arguments.”

In no uncertain terms, Schmaehl threatened that if his funding was cut off, he would continue performing the investigations on his own and publish the results, naming the brands (currently on the market) that he used in the experiments:

“I want to tell you again that in case this project . . . is refused support by the Industry, I will carry out such investigations in my Institute on my own account; in that case I will, in my publication of this work, call a ‘spade a spade’; this means I will name the brands currently on the market which were used to prepare the smoke condensates.”

A related internal memo about Schmael’s letter from Alexander Holtzman, PM’s Assistant General Counsel, to Thomas Osdene, PM’s Director of Research, shows that PM clearly considered Schmaehl’s threats blackmail, but decided to fund his work anyway to keep him quiet.  Holtzman says,  “I do feel that this letter is tantamount to blackmail by Schmaehl. I am very much afraid that unless financial support be provided to Schmaehl he will chastise the industry.”

Main Source: Letter, (Author: Schmael) October 12, 1979, Philip Morris Bates No. 2016000963/0964A

 

Corporate America’s “Echo Chamber Approach” to Lobbying

echo-chamberA 1998 internal Philip Morris memo, written by John Scruggs of Philip Morris Management Corporation’s Federal Government Affairs (lobbying) Office, describes a key public relations/lobbying technique that corporations use to dominate virtually the entire decisionmaking environment in which legislators operate.  Scruggs calls it the “Echo Chamber Approach to Advocacy.” It involves making a corporation’s chosen message, or slight variations of this message, emanate from virtually every major source that can influence legislators’ decisionmaking: constituents, colleagues, opinion leaders, local and national media like TV, radio, newspapers, fundraisers, advertising, etc.  Scruggs says “…[T]his repetition, or ‘piling on’ approach works” because the message emanates from those who have ” ‘the greatest degree of credibility’ with the legislator.” This memo was created by Philip Morris in the 1990s, but since then, due to the cigarette industry’s pioneering reputation of success at influencing legislators, the technique has doubtless spread and is now likely in use by many more corporations and industries.

Tea Party Links to Tobacco Industry Uncovered

TMAdoc

Excerpt from a Tobacco Manufacturers Association summary of tobacco-related activities in the western hemisphere, January, 20000

Rather than being a purely grassroots movement that arose spontaneously in 2009 as the media has led people to believe, the Tea Party developed partly as a result of tobacco industry efforts to oppose smoking restrictions and tobacco taxes beginning in the 1980s, according to a new study by researchers at UC San Francisco.  In 2002, long before the mainstream media widely discussed tea party politics, Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE), a nonprofit funded in part by cigarette companies since 1987 to support a pro-tobacco political agenda, started its “US Tea Party project.” Its website, http://www.usteaparty.com, stated “Our US Tea Party is a national event, hosted continuously online and open to all Americans who feel our taxes are too high and the tax code is too complicated.’’ In 2004, CSE split into the two tea party organizations: Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and FreedomWorks. Those two groups, say the study authors, have since waged campaigns to turn public opinion against tobacco taxes, smoke-free laws and health care reform in general.  “If you look at CSE, AFP and Freedom Works, you will see a number of the same key players, strategies and messages going back to the 1980s,” said lead author Amanda Fallin, PhD, RN, also a CTCRE fellow. “The records indicate that the Tea Party has been shaped by the tobacco industry, and is not a spontaneous grassroots movement at all.”

The NFL: A Disability Factory for Young Men

The NFL showcases brutality and player collisions in its promotions, while minimizing the human toll it takes on NFL players' health and safety

The NFL showcases brutality and player collisions in its promotions, while minimizing the human toll it takes on NFL players’ health and safety

As of January 23, 2013, the National Football League (NFL) is facing 199 lawsuits filed by a total of more than 4,000 retired professional football players who suffered head injuries while playing for the NFL. In June, 2012, the lawsuits of about three thousand of those injured players were consolidated into a single Master Complaint (pdf) which charges that the NFL was negligent and committed fraud because it was “aware of the evidence and risks associated with repetitive traumatic brain injuries…but deliberately ignored and actively concealed the information” from players and others involved in NFL football. The lawsuit says that to promote the game, the NFL glorifies the brutality and ferocity of NFL football by “lauding and mythologizing the most brutal and ferocious of players and collisions,” while simultaneously fraudulently representing that getting hit and putting big hits on others is a badge of courage, and does not seriously threaten one’s health. The suit charges that to heighten this belief and further promote football,  NFL Films, a PR instrument of the NFL, creates and markets videos that focus solely on the hardest hits that occur on the fields. 

Subway Finds Size Really Does Matter

Subway's trademark "Footlong™" subs are coming up short all over

Subway’s trademark “Footlong™” subs are coming up short all over

Subway stores are in big PR trouble. It all started when earlier this month an Australian man posted a photo on Subway Australia’s Facebook page of a Footlong™ sandwich he had just bought, and asked why it was only 11 inches long. Soon, other Subway sandwich buyers started making similar posts and uploading images of their too-short “footlong” sandwiches. Then two men from New Jersey filed a lawsuit against Subway accusing the stores of selling trademark Footlong™ sandwiches that were really just 11 inches. Stephen DeNettis, the lawyer who represents the plaintiffs, said he measured sandwiches from 17 different Subway stores and they all came up short. He says Subway should either make sure its Footlong™ sandwiches are really a foot long, or stop advertising them as such. For its part, Subway issued a statement apologizing for it’s short sandwiches, saying “With regards to the size of the bread and calling it a footlong, ‘SUBWAY FOOTLONG’ is a registered trademark as a descriptive name for the sub sold in Subway Restaurants and not intended to be a measurement of length.” For good measure, Subway added that the length of each bread cannot be assured every time because the “proofing” process may vary. Buzzfeed called that answer “amazingly stupid.” One commenter on Buzzfeed wrote, “So…when I pay them with my TWENTY DOLLAR BILL™, and it turns out to be nothing more than an envelope of grass shavings, there will be no hard feelings, right?” Another wrote, “After closer measurement, I’m returning those inch worms I bought at a yard sale.” Who knows? Maybe Subway is shorting people as part of their  sponsorship of NBC’s reality show “The Biggest Loser.”  After all, shorter Footlong™ sandwiches will help people lose more weight and shorting patrons like this makes Subway customers the Biggest Losers.