"...with a general lengthening of the expectation of life we really need something for people to die of. In substitution for the effects of war, poverty and starvation, cancer, as the disease of the rich, developed countries, may have some predestined part to play. The argument is obviously not one that the tobacco industry could use publicly. But its weight, as a psychological factor in perpetuating people's taste for smoking as an enjoyable if risky habit, should not be under-estimated..."
A PUBLIC RELATIONS STRATEGY FOR THE TOBACCO ADVISORY COUNCIL; APPRAISAL AND PROPOSALS PREPARED BY CAMPBELL JOHNSON LTD (British-American Tobacco Company (BAT))
Nov 20, 1978
A 1978 document, recently made known, revealed the sleight used during that time by the tobacco industry of the United Kingdom in order to overcome the crisis in the sector before evidence that cigarettes were harmful: “We need something for people to die,” said the report.
According to the consulting agency Campbell-Johnson for the British Association of Tobacco (BAT), tobacco consumption was functional for the Government, due to the fact that cancer and other illnesses associated to cigarettes limited “the number of dependent elderly that the economy must maintain.”
The document’s author recognizes that “obviously” those arguments “cannot be used publicly,” but he insists: “with a general increase in life expectancy, we need something for people to die. In replacement of the effects of war, poverty, and hunger, cancer, considered the illness of rich and developed countries, has a role to play.”
This idea, considered a “psychological factor in order to continue the taste people have of smoking as something pleasant, although it may be a dangerous habit, should not be under valuated,” the document continued.
Also, the damage that may be caused to the industry by associating smoking with lung cancer is recognized. “This medical challenge has acted like a nuclear bomb which will have lasting effects” on the sector.
Another argument used in order to defend the consumption of cigarettes indicated that the demonization of tobacco could accompany “a relaxation before marijuana, or an association between both substances.” Although tobacco may be a “relaxation drug” which can be “a blessing for humanity in a stressed world,” its association with marijuana would be harmful, insisted the document.
The document also gave criteria for lifting the public image of cigarettes: “we still have a margin to try to get smoking to be considered on of those habits that aren't questionable per se,” it says.
One of the actions is to promote a code of conduct among smokers that, if followed, “would assure they wouldn't be accused by non-smokers of arrogantly assuming the right to contaminate the air around them.”
“Their tone has to be frank and positive,” and one of the objectives must be to “restore the smoker’s image as an outgoing and sociable person, and not neurotic, smelly, and marginal as the non-smokers think,” concluded the report.
...The tactics to be followed...suggest that every effort be made to avoid concentration on the health issue or on the special moral stigma attached to the manufacturers for marketing a perfectly legal product. Instead, spokesmen should...quietly insist that there is no moral or practical necessity for the manufacturers to be explicit on this point: consumers have all the information they need to decide the question for themselves....Other positive points, including the connection between smoking and social and mental relaxation, should be made whenever feasible...
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