Confidential Documents On Tobacco Industry Strategies In California Released On The Internet

March 31, 1999

The University of California San Francisco today released on the Internet more than 2,000 pages of previously secret tobacco industry documents. Included among the documents are hundreds of pages of internal industry memos detailing strategies to counter anti-tobacco legislation and sentiment in California. The documents cover the period from 1990 through 1995.

The material released today by the UCSF Library/Center for Knowledge Management (CKM) is a fraction of some 33 million pages of tobacco industry documents now held at the State of Minnesota Depository, the result of a successful suit by Minnesota against seven American tobacco companies and several tobacco trade groups. The suit was settled last year.

The documents put online today by UCSF reveal industry plans to weaken enforcement of and support for California's 1995 smoke-free workplace legislation, AB 13. One RJ Reynolds document, "ISSUE STRATEGY BACKGROUND," lays out plans for an industry effort to develop a "powerful 'grass roots' political force... to ensure that growers, trade and non-tobacco allies are enlisted in fighting anti-tobacco issues."

The industry effort involved forming a network of groups to present the tobacco industry position, creating the sense of a grass roots movement. The industry could then pursue its political agenda, yet remain behind the scenes, says Stanton Glantz, PhD, professor of medicine at UCSF and a scholar of tobacco industry tactics.

According to Glantz, the documents show how soon and how well the tobacco industry understood the political nature of the anti-tobacco challenge, and how quickly the industry moved to engage the American Medical Association, the Western Center for Law and Poverty and other "surrogates" to undermine the state's tobacco control program. The program was funded by the 1988 passage of state Proposition 99.

"These documents show just how much the tobacco industry has permeated the political scene in California, yet how well they have stayed out of sight by creating surrogate organizations to act for them," Glantz says.

Also available online is the "California Action Plan" developed by a public relations firm for Philip Morris to, in its words, "educate California's hospitality industry... and safeguard bars and taverns against the threat of a total smoking ban."

The California documents are a guide to the future, Glantz says. "Around the country, the tobacco industry is trying to keep tobacco lawsuit settlement money from funding effective tobacco control. To do so, they are employing the same kinds of strategies that were first used in California. Those who want to fight them can learn a great deal from this record."

The documents put online today are the third collection released on the Internet by the UCSF Library/CKM Tobacco Control Archives ( In June 1995, the Library released some 10,000 pages of documents from the Brown and Williamson tobacco company. These documents were the first tobacco industry documents on the Internet and had formed the backbone of the litigation leading to the $206 billion settlement against the tobacco industry. In 1998, the library put online some 2,000 pages of documents stemming from the lawsuit that challenged the Joe Camel ad campaign.
The tobacco documents URL is:

University of California - San Francisco

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