One of the biggest leaks against Big Tobacco in Australian history has revealed cigarette companies have funnelled over $5 million into a campaign against plain cigarette packaging. Professor Mike Daube of the Council on Smoking and Health says the documents are the most damaging Big Tobacco leaks in Australian history.
Background: 1st off - we are very happen that Prime Minister Julia Gillard held on to power as Australia's first female prime minister. Australia - Tony Abbott no friend of health care especially when it comes to your children..While Big Tobacco has never denied it supports the newly-formed Alliance of Australian Retailers, which was set up in August to fight the government's plans, leaked internal documents suggest cigarette companies were involved in designing the campaign from the very beginning. (Australia - big tobacco fighting back against plans to introduce plain cigarette packaging..); Australia - alliance of retail groups funded by big tobacco suffers major loss in fight against plain cigarette packs..)
September 2, 2009 - Australia - Comments on the National Preventative Health Taskforce's Proposal..;
November 9, 2009 - Australian study - Plainer cigarette packages, perceived as boring or unattractive, would make smoking much less appealing to teens..;
April 29, 2010 - Australia - plain packages on all tobacco products within 2-years..;
April 29, 2010 - Australia - tobacco tax increase now in force, next comes plain tobacco packaging..;
June 14, 2010 - Australia - U.S. Chamber of Commerce expresses concern about cigarette plain-packaging..;
June 24, 2010 - Australia - new Prime Minister Julia Gillard...
ABC's (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), Lateline has obtained internal emails, invoices and contracts that reveal Big Tobacco hired a PR firm which told them to launch a campaign hidden under a third party like a retailers association.
View video: The Tobacco Files (Lateline)..
Less than three months later, the Alliance of Australian Retailers was formed the same day it received over $5 million from the three biggest tobacco giants.
In May, months before the Alliance of Australian Retailers existed, Philip Morris contacted Melbourne public relations firm The Civic Group for advice on how to fight the government's plan, the ABC says.
The Civic Group then told Philip Morris to launch an aggressive and intense campaign that builds "concern among the targeted decision makers that the campaign will not cease, it is likely to increase and that it will extract a political cost".
The PR firm's proposal recommended using third parties like retail groups to sell the message, the documents say. The Alliance of Australian Retailers was then formed in August, purporting to represent thousands of corner stores and shopkeepers. On the day the alliance was formed, documents say it received funding from: Imperial Tobacco Australia: $1,080,860; British American Tobacco: $2,200,000; Philip Morris: $2,161,720. Philip Morris also paid The Civic Group a $200,000 a month retainer to help manage the alliance, according to the documents.
Reference: Leaks reveal Big Tobacco's $5m blitz, AAP (Australian Associated Press), 9/11/2010.