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Third Party Techniques

In 1991, Merrill Rose, executive vice president of public relations firm Porter/Novelli, advised companies on techniques involving third parties:

"Put your words in someone's mouth... .There will be times when the position you defend, no matter how well framed and well-founded, will not be accepted by the public, simply because you are who you are. Any institution with a commercial interest veiled in the solution of an issue faces a natural barrier of credibility to overcome with its audience, and often with the media."1.

The tobacco industry employs this tactic, where arguments in favor of tobacco are defended by apparently independent third parties.

In Brazil

The tobacco industry in Brazil has been associated with several groups that use the discourse of freedom of choice, promotion and social and competition justice, but actually want to promote their products. They get involved in sectoral chambers occupying spaces within governments such as the ETCO Institute, or in partnerships with state governments such as the EKLOOS Institute. There are also those that join groups that use speeches to collaborate with other companies to manage their businesses, such as Instituto ETHOS.


This is a tactic used not only by the tobacco industry but also to give credibility to companies that carry out controversial industrial activities. Many companies have found it unhelpful to use corporate spokespersons to defend themselves.

According to the Tobacco Tactics website, Amanda Little, who works at public relations firm Burson.Marsteller in Sydney, Australia, said at a 1995 advertising conference:
“For the media and the public, the company will be one of the least reliable sources of information, whether about its own product or about safety or environmental risks. goal. Developing third-party support and validation for core corporate risk messages is critical. This support should ideally come from medical authorities, political leaders, union representatives, respected researchers, law enforcement and fire officials, environmentalists, and regulatory body representatives." .

Sometimes techniques involving third parties are explicit and the industry and/or its front groups pay for these views. In 2011, for example, the group Privacy International, which runs campaigns in support of civil liberties, produced a report on smoking and privacy, commissioned and paid for by the pro-tobacco group Forest . 2.

More often, financial ties are less transparent. They can be overshadowed to hide links between industry and shell groups. While the goal is to persuade public opinion that a broad spectrum of people and organizations share the industry's vision, techniques involving third parties do not necessarily seek to undermine public opinion ''per se'' . This is a battle the tobacco industry has already lost. The goal of the tobacco industry is not to win a good public relations campaign, but to avoid losing political and legal battles. The survival strategy (''survivalist'') has worked for the tobacco industry for forty years.

Surveys of internal tobacco industry documents, formerly classified as secret, show that the industry employs techniques involving third parties as a strategy quite often and, as noted below:

Philip Morris's links to the Australian Retailers Alliance.
As such, industry allies and those promoting a tobacco-friendly agenda should be scrutinized more closely for possible links with manufacturers.

Variety of techniques

Techniques involving third parties come in many forms and not all of them are camouflaged. They begin with the familiar ''lobbying'', establish networks and build alliances. When there is a financial link, help or - when the link is hidden - the use of 'shell groups' is also hired. A specific use of 'facade groups' is called "''astroturfing'' ®".

Building alliances
The most natural way, so to speak, of a technique involving third parties is to build alliances with those involved with the industry in some way. This includes, for example, employees, unions or consumers. Business organizations, representing either the industry or a broader coalition of transnational corporations, can be effective in lobbying groups and  Transnational lobbying networks.
For example, in the UK, small retailers' organization, the National Federation of Retail Newsagents, has become known for taking money from British American Tobacco to campaign against planned regulation of Point of Sale Advertising for tobacco products.


The tobacco industry archives contain numerous documents revealing how celebrities have been used by the industry to:

  1. Promote "smoking and tolerance" 3;
  2. Participate in cigarette advertising 4;
  3. "Smoking KOOL [cigarettes] in movies" 5;
  4. Participate in industry-sponsored sporting events with "great television possibilities" 6.

Forest Celebrities

The industry-funded front organization Forest  has a "Board of Supporters" made up of celebrities. Some of these celebrities publicly speak out against laws that Forest also disqualifies, such as smoking bans or proposals for generic packaging. Sometimes, however, his connection to Forest is not mentioned, for example, in the following case.

Chef Antony Worrall Thompson is Forest's patron, who gives interviews, according to Forest, “representing it any time of day, whether it's for GMTV, Channel 4 News or the World Service. Forest events at The Groucho Club in Soho (which he is a member of) and The Savoy hotel in London". 7 However, the link between Forest and the ''chef'' is not so explicit. For example, in August 2011, when Worrall Thompson released an electronic petition demanding that the government review the smoking ban. 8 Simon Clark of Forest has admitted that he asked the ''chef'' to propose another petition. "On Thursday, August 4th, the government launched its new website with it. "As most readers know, I'm not a fan of petitions in general," he wrote. "However, I spoke with the patron of Forest, Antony Worrall Thompson, and he has agreed to submit a petition entitled 'Save our pubs and clubs _Review smoking ban'" 9 Se you click on the British Government electronic petition website you only see the name Worrall Thompson , without any mention of F orest or role of him as your patron. To the unsuspecting public, this appears to be just a famous ''chef'' signing a petition, not a pro-smoking organization. 10.

Hired help

Tobacco companies sometimes hire Research Institutes, independent experts, or other consultants to write a report or provide an opinion in favor of the industry. For example, to oppose the government policy on the Display Ban or Plain Packaging.
Paying for research and for the endorsement of doctors, for example, as explained in Influencing Science can be included in the category "Techniques Involving Third Parties" as "contracted help".

'Facade Groups' and 'Astroturfing'

'Shadow groups' are organizations specifically created by the tobacco industry to act as a supposedly independent voice in the tobacco debate. These include organizations or initiatives acting as seemingly autonomous entities. In fact, these groups have (occasionally hidden) links to tobacco companies. They are sometimes funded or funded by third parties such as certain Research Institutes.
A very specific way of using front groups is called 'Astroturfing': simulating an authentic militant movement (''grassroot movement''). 11.


Bulletin eleven published by the Center for Studies on Tobacco and Health of the Sergio Arouca National School of Public Health of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Cetab/Ensp/Fiocruz). This edition consists of an editorial signed by Luis Guilherme Hasselmann; opinion on the integration of agrarian control in accordance with the global demands of COP 10, by Breno Gaspar; interview with Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva – Executive Secretary of the National Commission for the Implementation of the Framework Convention (CONICQ) and extra news.


DESAFIOS e perspectivas: indústria do tabaco, saúde e agricultura familiar no Brasil [boletim DOZE]. Cetab/Ensp/Fiocruz, Rio de Janeiro, n. 12, 27 mar. 2024.



Highlights with topics considered to be of note in order to promote debates and decision-making in the context of tobacco control. In this edition, the agenda deals with: deconstructing the information disseminated by the National Forum Against Piracy and Illegality; The truth about the partnership between Deputy Marcelo Moraes and the tobacco industry; Clearance of Electronic Smoking Devices (EDS): A Threat to Youth Health! and the truth behind ESG strategies: Unmasking the tobacco industry and SindiTabaco.


KORNALEWSKI, Alex Medeiros; CARVALHO, Alexandre Octavio Ribeiro de; BARATA, Danielle; HASSELMANN, Luis Guilherme; TURCI, Silvana Rubano. Destaques do Observatório sobre as Estratégias da Indústria do Tabaco. Cetab/Ensp/Fiocruz, Rio de Janeiro, jul. 2023. Acesso em: 7 jun. 2023.



The illicit trade in tobacco products represents a major global concern for public health, economy and public safety. More specifically, the illicit trade in tobacco products undermines tobacco control policy efforts, particularly in relation to tax policy. As they are not taxed or regulated, illicit tobacco products do not have health warnings or packaging or labeling requirements, which favors their consumption. As with other regions in the world, the illegal cigarette trade in Mercosur involves lower average prices compared to taxed cigarettes. Furthermore, the increase in the accessibility of cigarettes, via the informal market, combined with the lower prices of smuggled products - and therefore not subject to regulation - favors the consumption of cigarettes by young people and low-income populations 1,4.


HASSELMANN, Luis Guilherme Hasselmann; RICHTER,  Ana Paula Cardoso; TURCI, Silvana Rubano; SILVA, Vera Luiza da Costa. Uso pela indústria do tabaco (IT) de estratégias de Responsabilidade Social Corporativa (RSC) para interferir no combate ao comércio ilícito [projeto STOP]. Centro de Estudos sobre Tabaco e Saúde (Cetab), Rio de Janeiro, 23 mai. 2022. 49p.



The Brazilian Institute for Ethics and Competition (ETCO) is a non-governmental organisation that works with multinationals and trade associations from the tobacco, alcohol, soft drinks, pharmaceutical, technology and fuel distribution sectors in Brazil. ETCO was co-founded by tobacco companies and receives undisclosed financial contributions from the industry. It lobbies heavily against the Brazilian government’s taxes on cigarettes.


BRAZILIAN Institute for Ethics and Competition (Instituto Brasileiro de Ética Concorrencial). Tobacco Tactics, Inglaterra, 10 fev. 2020. Disponível em: https://tobaccotactics.org/article/brazilian-institute-for-ethics-and-co.... Acesso em: 7 ago. 2023.



This essay seeks to describe the efforts made to portray the “reality of smuggling” in Brazil by analyzing the instruments and the strategies of the actors involved in these efforts, such as the Institute for Social and Economic Development of the Borders (IDESF), the National Forum Against Piracy and Illegality (FNCP), the Brazilian Institute for Ethics in Competition (ETCO), and the Brazilian Association for Combating Counterfeiting (ABCF). Smuggling has emerged as a critical topic in the agenda of the antipiracy coalition, and is associated with certain spaces, actors, and dynamics that define its key circuits, both territorially and socially: land borders (especially with Paraguay) traversed by commercial circuits that feed popular markets. By contemplating the actors, performances, instruments, and variables chosen to compose the figures of smuggling, it is possible to appreciate the agenda that is being put forward and the effects on the government and management of those circuits.


RABOSSI, Fernando. Smuggling realities: On numbers, borders, and performances. Journal of Ethnographic Theory, Estados Unidos, v. 8, n. 1-2, p. 265-281, 2018. Disponível em: https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1086/698218. Acesso em: 7 ago. 2023.


Documento que demonstra o envolvimento da British American Tobacco em uma série de encontros de engajamento com stakeholders como parte de uma campanha orquestrada para se reposicionarem como empresas fumageiras responsáveis.


PHILIP Morris Calls for Constructive Dialogue - "It's Time to Talk". Philip Morris, Estados Unidos, 13 out. 1999. Disponível em: http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/dbh60a99/pdf Acesso em: 22 mai. 2015.


Documento que define e relata algumas das interferências da indústria do tabaco.


WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION.Tobacco industry interference with tobacco control.Genebra, 2008. Disponível em: http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2008/9789241597340_eng.pdf?ua=1 Acesso em:14 jan. 2014.