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Table 2 ICOSI committees and task forces, 1978–1981

From: Tobacco industry issues management organizations: Creating a global corporate network to undermine public health

Name, year(s)



European Economic Community (EEC) Consumerism Task Force, 1978–1980

To prevent the European Commission and European Parliament from enacting legislation restricting cigarette marketing [289].

• Submitted two papers to EEC demonstrating that proposal to ban tobacco advertising would not reduce smoking, and questioning link between smoking and disease [82].

• Mobilized allies (European Trade Union Committee of Food and Allied Workers, tobacco farmers' association, advertising associations) [58].

• Established contacts with representatives of EEC institutions [58].

• Commissioned UK firm (METRA) to analyze industry data to determine the relationship between advertising expenditure and tobacco consumption 1958–1978; it found no significant relationship [84]. When METRA refused to "abandon" its finding that higher cigarette prices led to reduced consumption, ICOSI decided not to provide the European Commission with these results, as they might lead some governments to raise prices [82–85].

• EEC did not enact legislation [290].

Developing Countries Group, 1980–1981


• guide ICOSI's response to attacks on tobacco industry's activities in developing countries

• work with NMAs to prevent or delay implementation of WHO recommendations to discourage smoking in developing countries

• create new NMAs, and encourage them to mobilize tobacco growers in their countries

• create allies

• address deforestation [103, 291].

• Monitored "international bodies," WHO regional offices, and International Union Against Cancer (UICC) workshops in Venezuela and Argentina [76].

• Helped arrange for two speakers at Venezuela UICC workshop to present industry's view on advertising [76].

• Distributed ICOSI paper "The Threat to the Future of Tobacco Growing and Manufacturing Industry in Developing Countries" to member company affiliates in developing countries [76].

• With help of Council of Malaysian Tobacco Manufacturers, created a model for qualitative research on perceived benefits of smoking, public views of tobacco control movement, and situations where smoking was accepted or not, in order to offer evidence refuting the need for smoking restrictions [76, 292, 293].

• Established personal contacts with Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) officials [76].

• "Leaf Tobacco: Its Contributions to the Economic and Social Development of the Third World," written by public relations firm Hill and Knowlton and published by Economist Intelligence Unit, made available to NMAs and member companies and distributed to journalists, academic journals, FAO, UN Development Program and UN Center on Transnational Corporation officials; condensed version translated into Spanish [76, 293].

• Indirectly lobbied UN agencies, FAO officials regarding the economic significance of tobacco [77, 78, 117, 294].

• Held regional workshops in Asia and Latin America [132].

• Commissioned economic impact model for developing countries [see Additional file 1] [293].

Effects of Advertising Working Party/Defence of Advertising Committee, 1979–1981


• refute argument that advertising induces people to start smoking or smoke more

• to demonstrate benefits of cigarette advertising [83, 283].

• Commissioned study of effects of advertising bans on tobacco consumption in Scandinavia which found that price increases and health campaigns had direct (negative) effect on consumption; results not published [283, 289, 295].

• Distributed to NMAs white paper outlining industry's view on advertising, action pack listing material available from ICOSI, and planning guide on how to use the material [283].

• Presented program "Campaign Against Tobacco Advertising Censorship" to NMA workshop [138].

Middle East Working Group, 1980–1981

To defend industry interests in the region [272].

• Drafted voluntary agreement with Kuwaiti government on warning labels and tar and nicotine limits [296, 297].

• Lobbied Iraqi officials regarding warning labels [298].

• Established contacts with Egyptian member of Parliament [299].

• Shook, Hardy and Bacon prepared background briefing papers for use with local agents and distributors ("Arguments to Use Against Claims that Tobacco Smoke is Harmful," "The Smoking and Health Controversy: A Perspective," "Smoking and the Nonsmoker," "Advertising Restrictions Unlikely to Reduce Cigarette Consumption," and "Many Unanswered Questions on Smoking and Health Controversy") [81].

• Wrote media article encouraging health ministers to conduct research "into such areas as might occupy their time for a considerable period" [300, 301].

Product Liability Working Party, 1979


• determine position of EEC countries on product liability

• examine EEC draft directive on product liability and determine how to change it [302].

• Disbanded as of September 1979 [73].

Swiss Referendum Task Force, 1978–1979

To defeat Swiss referendum to ban all advertising and promotion of tobacco and alcohol [79].

• Helped Swiss NMA develop arguments to oppose the referendum [80].

• Referendum defeated by 59% of Swiss voters in 1979 [58].

Public Position Working Party, 1980–1981

To develop strategies to improve industry credibility [303].

Disbanded after concluding that group's goals overlapped with those of other working groups [304].