Tag: Marketing

The Daily Sentinel’s Energy Expo Coverage Disappoints

The Daily Sentinel ignored the important back stories about this year's Energy Expo, leaving people wondering if they were trying to protect the local oil and gas industry

The Daily Sentinel ignored the important back stories about this year’s Energy Expo, leaving people wondering if the paper was trying to protect the local oil and gas industry

In an era of corporate concentration of media ownership, Grand Junction citizens are fortunate to have a daily paper whose publisher, editors and reporters live in the same community in which they work. The thought is that by living here, Sentinel employees will be more responsive and cover what people in this area really need to know, so citizens can make more informed choices when it comes to local politics and economic development.

Since Jay Seaton replaced George Orbanek as the paper’s publisher several years ago, the Sentinel has acted noticeably less like a poodle for the area’s political elite, an started showing more backbone in its reporting. I’ve been greatly impressed by the Sentinel’s new willingness to do whatever it takes to get the information its readers deserve, from filing Freedom of Information Act requests to bringing lawsuits to access to information important to area residents. On occasion, the Sentinel has even taken real risks to pursue its mission. One example is how the paper exposed the hypocrisy of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce in claiming to promote local business while taking its own business out of town. (Reporting on the chamber’s antics is not without its risks for the Sentinel. The chamber buys huge amounts of advertising in the Sentinel, pumping tens of thousands of dollars into the paper’s coffers annually. That’s money the paper risks losing if it gets crosswise with the chamber.) The Sentinel also reported in detail on the Grand Junction Regional Airport Board’s fraud and corruption and former State Senator Steve King’s embezzling. The way the Sentinel doggedly pursued those stories for its readers was a big reason why I subscribed to the Sentinel again after 20 years of boycotting the paper. I saw real change for the better in our local paper, and wanted to support it with my dollars.

That’s also why the Sentinel’s coverage of John L. Casey’s appearance the Energy Expo was so incredibly disappointing.

Just when I and probably many others started to think the Sentinel was finally starting to tell the real stories of what goes on around here, the poodle re-emerges.

Unlike the G.J. Chamber, Bin 707 Walks the “Local” Talk

bin707logoBin 707 Foodbar in downtown Grand Junction is serious about supporting local food products and organic food producers. “We’re local first, Colorado second,” says Bin’s new website. “Locally purchased products keeps money in the local economy for longer, instead of investing it in large corporations.”

Yup, Bin gets it.

When the time came to create a new website, Bin patronized Synergy Marketing Consultants at 2478 Patterson Road, a full-service digital marketing agency located right here in Grand Junction. Cat Mayer of Cat Mayer Studio, located at 3360 Star Court in Grand Junction, did the photography for the new site, and the photographs are gorgeous.

Bin’s seeking out of local talent and expertise contrasts starkly with the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, which claims to promote local business while frequently taking its own business out of town, and often clean out of the state.

Bin 707’s true devotion to local, and its creative, innovative culinary offerings have catapulted it to success — all without joining the chamber.

Now the highest-rated restaurant in town on TripAdvisor and the second highest-rated on Yelp, Bin has quickly become a well-loved local institution. It provides GJ residents with a top-level eatery for special occasions as well as everyday dining.

Thank you, Bin 707, not just for helping to bring our town’s culinary offerings into the 21st century, but for demonstrating you are truly devoted to the real meaning of “local.”

Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce Violates Own “Buy Local” Advice — Again!

Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce President Diane Schwenke (Photo Credit: YouTube)

Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce President Diane Schwenke (Photo Credit: YouTube)

The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce once again dealt a hard slap to local businesses by hiring an out-of-state web developer to create its new “Save Local Now” web page and mobil app.

As quickly as the chamber debuted its new “save local” program, the Daily Sentinel revealed it had hired an Ohio-based firm to create it.

Such web development expertise is available in Grand Junction. Thin Air Web at the corner of First Street and North Avenue is one local company that offers such services, but the chamber chose not to patronize this or any other local web development business for this need.

Local-Washing

The Grand Junction Chamber regularly rolls out programs nominally aimed at supporting local businesses, like it’s “Blue Band Buy Local” program, while actually taking much of its own business out of town. This practice is known as “local-washing,” or trying to look concerned about local businesses without actually supporting local business.

Local-washing is akin to “greenwashing,” in which the chamber claims to be environmentally conscious while backing environmentally devastating pursuits unpopular with many businesses, like fracking and oil shale mining. The chamber also “job-washes,” or claims to support efforts to create jobs locally, while working to undermine innovative new economic pursuits that are already generating significant economic activity and good-paying jobs in other parts of the state.

Botox Victim Wins $18 Million from Allergan after Contracting Botulism Poisoning

Ad for Botox Cosmetic. Allergan hid information from doctors and patients about the dangers of injecting botulinum toxin into the body.

Ad for Botox Cosmetic. Allergan hid information from doctors and patients about the dangers of injecting botulinum toxin into the body.

Dr. Sharla Helton, an accomplished obstetrician in Oklahoma City, won $18 million a long-running legal fight against the maker of Botox, after she contracted botulism poisoning as a result of getting injections of Botox Cosmetic 2006.

Botox Cosmetic, which is injected into people’s faces to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, is made from a highly potent neurotoxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Botulinum toxin is the most acutely lethal toxin known to man, and has been considered for its potential as a biological weapon. Just four hundredths of an ounce of undiluted botulinum toxin is enough to kill one million people by giving them the nerve disease botulism, which causes paralysis. Allergan must dilute their toxin so much that the amounts in its drug Botox cannot be measured in conventional terms. One “unit” of Botox is the amount that will kill one half of a test population of laboratory mice. A typical injection of Botox is 20 times that amount.

Even very slight errors in how and where a doctor injects the drug can potentially cause significant and even lethal health problems.

Lawsuit Blames Chicago Woman’s Death on Botox

Botox™, made of botulinum toxin, one of the most potent poisons in the world. Incorrect injection can cause death from symptoms of botulism.

A woman injected with cosmetic Botox at a skin care center in Chicago in May, 2011 developed symptoms of botulism and died, and her husband is suing the doctor who injected her.

In May, 2011, after receiving injections of Botox, Janet Rosenstern, 55, started suffering progressive generalized muscle weakness. She eventually became unable to hold up her neck. She developed weakness in muscles throughout her body, developed severe anxiety, truncal parasthesias (feelings of prickling, burning or tingling in the skin) dizziness, unsteady gait, muscle spasms and involuntary jerking-type movements in her abdominal wall.

She contacted her doctor immediately after her Botox injections and reported her symptoms, but the doctor was dismissive of her complaints. She went to the emergency room several times as her symptoms worsened.

After suffering with these progressively worsening symptoms for nearly a year, on April 22, 2012, she was found unconscious and died the next day.

Her husband, Klaus Rosenstern, is suing his wife’s doctor, Steven Dayan of the True Skin Care Center in Chicago, seeking damages for negligence, lack of informed consent, medical battery and wrongful death. He charges that Dr. Dayan failed to inform his wife of the known serious, debilitating and deadly potential side effects of being injected with Botox Cosmetic.

Botox is Allergan’s trade name for botulinum toxin, one of the most potent neurotoxins in the world. If it spreads through the body, it can cause death.

Janet Rosenstern was a registered nurse who is described in the lawsuit as a “high functioning” and “articulate” woman.

People who have had serious reactions from injections of Botox, like a woman in British Columbia who ended up paralyzed and in a wheelchair, are struggling to make others aware of the serious risks of being injected with Botox.

Source: Courthouse News Service, Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Stacy London: What Not to Promote

On July, 8, 2013, Stacy London, star of the TV show What Not To Wear, entered into a partnership with drug maker AbbVie, manufacturer of the anti-psoriasis drug, Humira. Humira is reportedly responsible for 70% of the drug maker’s profits. The promotional campaign is called  “Uncover Your Confidence with Stacy London.”

StacyLondon

Stacy London of the TLC TV show “What Not to Wear,” promotes a psoriasis self-help website in partnership with AbbVie, the manufacturer of Humira, a drug the company promotes to treat psoriasis. Humira has been demonstrated to have potentially deadly side effects. Warnings even say Humira can CAUSE psoriasis — the very condition is is prescribed to treat.

The campaign would be great except for the long list of dire adverse effects and side effects Humira has had on patients who have used it.

Humira works by suppressing your immune system, but a weakened immune system can leave your body’s defenses too weak to protect you from ordinary bacterial infections and a host of other rare deadly diseases. The adverse effects and side effects of Humira have been so bad that the FDA has required a black box warning on the drug telling users they can get “Serious infections and malignancy that may lead to hospitalization or death.” Infections and cancers linked to Humira include tuberculosis, lymphoma, skin cancer, leukemia,  Kaposi’s sarcoma (a tumor caused by a herpes virus). Adverse effects of Humira include liver failure, sarcoidosis, Guillain-Barre syndrome (progressive paralysis), stroke, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis and more.

London’s campaign misleads

The campaign featuring London leads people to believe that she recovered from psoriasis by using Humira, but she has written a book in which she states that her psoriasis cleared up after she had a tonsillectomy at age 17. She writes, “No only did the operation clear up my skin, but I haven had an outbreak of psoriasis since.”

The information about what actually cleared up London’s psoriasis is not contained on her “UncoverYourConfidence.com” website, sponsored by AbbVie.

Dr. David Healy, who wrote a book exposing the pharmaceutical industry called “Pharmageddon” (and who runs the website RxIsk.org, which crowd-sources data on drug side effects),  wrote an article in August, 2013,  “Stacy London, What Not to Take,” which asked London to help psoriasis sufferers by letting them know AbbVie has taken legal action against the European Medicines Agency to try and block access to data on Humira’s side effects (pdf).

The Activism Behind CVS’s Cigarette Announcement

CVS touts its apparent new-found interest in people's health

CVS touts its apparent new-found interest in people’s health

CVS Drugstores announced this week that they are finally acting on information the rest of us have known for fifty years: they’re going to stop selling cigarettes because they are addictive and deadly. On February 5, 2014 CVS announced that it would end cigarette sales at its 7,600 stores nationwide by October 1. What CVS didn’t mention was the grassroots efforts behind this move, including the relentless driving force of a human being, Dr. Terence A. Gerace, who carried out an almost four year-long, single-focus, one-man campaign to push CVS to stop selling cigarettes. Dr. Gerace started his campaign in earnest on May 20, 2010. Over the years it has included a web site containing a log and description of every single one of the days he personally stood protesting in front of a busy CVS store in a prominent part of Washington, D.C., a “CVS Sells Poison” Facebook page, a “CVS Sells Poison” YouTube song and video, almost 170 days of personal protest in all kinds of weather at the Washington, D.C. store and some imaginative, hand-made iterations of what Terry though CVS ads could look like if the chain finally went cigarette-free. To his credit, though, Dr. Gerace has turned down offers of publicity for himself now that CVS has finally agreed to stop selling cigarettes, saying the focus should be on the change, and for that he deserves a gold medal.

Some communities understand that it is wrong for pharmacies, which market themselves as interested in peoples’ health, to sell cigarettes. A few enlightened U.S. cities, including San Francisco, Richmond, California, Boston and about 80 other cities in Massachusetts now have ordinances banning pharmacies from selling cigarettes. Canada prohibits pharmacies from selling cigarettes and so does the United Kingdom. In Europe, pharmacies do not sell cigarettes.

For decades the tobacco industry has protected the big national chain drug stores against lawsuits brought by people who were sickened by cigarettes bought at their stores through contracts that indemnify the stores against such legal action. After all, the pharmacies know they are selling a deadly product but keep doing it, to the cigarette makers’ great financial advantage. CVS had many such protective contracts with cigarette companies. To see the contracts tobacco companies held with any drug chain, just go to the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library online and enter the search term “indemnify and hold harmless” along with the name of any major drug store chain you like to shop at, like Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, etc. They’re all there, demonstrating that these stores know they are selling a deadly product and choose to do it anyway.

Now that CVS has decided to stop selling cigarettes, the only question left in people’s minds is no longer which national chain drug store will be the first to stop selling cigarettes. It’s which one will be the last.

Denver County Fair Adds New Category: Marijuana

Poster advertising the 2014 Denver County Fair

Poster advertising the 2014 Denver County Fair

In November, 2012, by a vote of 55 to 44 percent, Colorado approved Amendment 64, which legalized recreational use of marijuana. As a result, Colorado is now hosting a booming new pot industry, and this year the Denver County Fair will include a new agricultural category: marijuana. Nine newly-added contests will include judging for highest quality pot plants (done on appearance, not on THC content, and through the submission of photos only), best marijuana-infused brownies and savory foods, best handmade bongs and roach clips, and clothing and fabrics made from hemp. There will also be a joint-rolling competition, done with oregano.

Denver County’s first fair was held in 2011, and with its new-age urban chic culture and little agriculture within its borders, it departs from the typical county fair in notable ways. One of these differences is it’s mission. The Denver County Fair bills itself as 21st century place to share ideas and creativity, celebrate diversity, local culture and intellect. (Yes, intellect at a county fair.) Besides marijuana judging, events include a best tattoo contest, a sopapilla toss, a speed texting competition, a human chicken contest, a Geek Pavilion, speed knitting, the “Corpses and Crowns” Zombie Beauty Pageant, trick pigs, pie on a stick, an X-Treme pancake breakfast with a choice of over 60 different toppings like artichokes and gummy worms. There’s even a drag queen contest.

The National Cannabis Industry Association recently reported that Colorado’s new recreational cannabis industry made “well over $5 million in sales in the first five days” of its operation in January, 2014. The financial boon for the state is leaving marijuana purveyors stuffing their mattresses full of cash, since banks refuse to deal with marijuana-related businesses out of concern that processing money from marijuana sales could put them at risk of incurring federal charges of drug racketeering, since marijuana remains illegal at the federal level.

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).”

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.  

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.

How Cigarettes Get Into Movies

Cigarette case promoting the movie "Big Top Pee Wee" (1988), holds 16 regular or 100 mm cigarettes. Still available at Amazon.com

Cigarette case promoting the movie “Big Top Pee Wee” (1988), holds 16 regular or 100 mm cigarettes. Still available at Amazon.com

A 412-page “movie memo” from UPP Entertainment Marketing in North Hollywood, California, dated 1990, lists feature films into which American Tobacco Company cigarettes were injected, or were attempted to be injected, into the plot, or in which cigarettes were placed as “set dressing.” Examples: “Pall Mall, Carlton and Lucky Strike cigarettes will be used as set dressing in a Mini Mart in Comstock,” “We provided LUCKY STRIKE cigarettes for Kathleen. The cigarettes have been established as her brand, and she will be smoking them throughout the film. The exposure for THE AMERICAN TOBACCO CO. should be great.”

The document lists many significant family films in which cigarettes were placed or attempted to be placed, including “Big Top Pee Wee” starring Pee Wee Herman, “Ghostbusters II” starring Dan Aykroid and Bill Murray, “Christmas Vacation” with Chevy Chase, “Look Who’s Talking Too” with Kirstie Alley and John Travolta, “Ghost,” starring Demi Moore, Patrick Swayze, “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, “Big” starring Tom Hanks, and many more. A memo discussing the film “Clean and Sober,” a film about a man who checks himself into a detox center, says “Lucky Strike, Pall Mall and Carlton were given for use by Charlie and many other patients in the detox center.”

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.”

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.”

American Heart Association Helps Walgreens Profit from Cigarettes

WalgreensMarlboro1

Cigarettes and toys displayed together in a “trusted” Walgreens Store.

This month, Walgreens’ webpage cheerfully chirps “Celebrate Heart Health Month” as it promotes its long-standing fundraising partnership with the American Heart Association. Until February 28, Walgreens says, customers can “purchase a paper heart at any of our 7,000 Walgreens stores nationwide” to support the American Heart Association’s mission of “building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.” It all sounds happy and wonderful, but don’t be fooled. Walgreens’ promotion has a dark underbelly that it would rather you not see.