4005.0: Tuesday, November 14, 2000 - Board 4

Abstract #8734

Globalization of tobacco industry tactics as exemplified in Switzerland

Chung-Yol Lee, MD, School of Public Health, Interdisciplinary MPH Program, University of California, Berkeley, Earl Warren Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720-7360, 415-665-2400, yol1261@cswebmail.com and Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, Department of Medicine, Cardiovascular Research Institute and Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California, San Francisco.

Objective: To demonstrate tobacco industry’s well-concerted worldwide tactics in undermining national tobacco control efforts, using Switzerland as a case study. Methods: Content analysis of select tobacco industry documents, newspaper and magazine articles, annual reports of tobacco companies, Swiss anti-tobacco organizations, and Swiss governmental institutions. Additional information collected through personal interviews with key referents in government, private organizations, and academic institutions. Results: For international tobacco companies with European headquarters, factories, and research laboratories in Switzerland, it can be considered a safe haven. Major victories of the tobacco industry over the poorly organized anti-tobacco coalitions at the federal and local level have confirmed this uneasy feeling. The tobacco industry was able to successfully defend its interests by anticipating potential threats through meticulous long-term monitoring of tobacco-related activities and timely preparation of countermeasures. This was made possible through pooling of knowledge, skill, and finance within an international cooperative organization of otherwise competing firms, which allowed them to preempt anti-tobacco efforts in many cases. Most tactics employed were not novel or unique to Switzerland. They included alliances with powerful economic interest groups, direct representation by politicians with clear financial interests in tobacco, intimidation campaigns aimed at the constituencies by appealing to ever-prevalent worries about job and financial losses, as well as ill-defined but powerful slogans, such as "Courtesy and Tolerance" or "Freedom of Choice". Conclusion: In order to be successful, anti-tobacco alliances need to recognize that tobacco control is ultimately a political battle fought in public, and not a scientific debate discussed in private.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this session, the participant will be able to:

Keywords: Tobacco Control, Tobacco Industry

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: None
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA