Front Groups & Allies

"I've learned from experience that as soon as I'm identified as a representative of the Tobacco Institute, I lose all credibility. They just sneer us away...so I try to work behind the scenes whenever I can." - Ron Saldana, lobbyist for the Tobacco Institute, 8/24/86

It has been a common practice of Big Tobacco to use third parties or to create front groups "to be out in front fighting" smokefree policies, while the industry remains behind the scenes, protecting its public image.

In 1994, Philip Morris created its "Accommodation Program" to "serve as a link between the tobacco giant and the hospitality industry."

Since then, Philip Morris and other tobacco companies have partnered with national and state restaurant associations, licensed beverage associations, and gambling associations as key third parties to publicly oppose smokefree ordinances.

In addition to targeting hospitality trade groups, the tobacco industry pays and/or sponsors scientists and researchers to challenge the credible science of secondhand smoke, to label it "junk science", and to research and testify in favor of ventilation as a solution to secondhand smoke exposure.

Business rights organizations, libertarian groups, and other organizations or individuals that are opposed to government involvement in privately owned businesses often are vocal opponents of smokefree laws. These groups often cite industry-sponsored or scientifically unsound research that claim that smokefree laws cause economic havoc.

Advocates should shine the light on these various associations and any connections they may have to the tobacco industry. See our factsheet on how to follow the money to find industry connections in your community. There isn't always a smoking gun linking the tobacco industry to these groups, either due to lax local campaign finance laws, or money getting funneled through third parties. Often we don't find out until years later that the tobacco industry was funding opposition activities. In any case, showing that suspicious groups are pulling out all the familiar tricks will encourage people to take the tobacco companies' message delivered by these groups with a grain of salt.