Tobacco Advisory Council

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Background

The Tobacco Advisory Council (TAC) was a British tobacco industry trade and lobbying group. Its members were:[1]

TAC also had individual membership, most notably:

The TAC was renamed the Tobacco Manufacturers' Association (TMA) in 1994.[2]

Lobbying and Countering Threats

The TAC organised meetings between member companies and Government officials [3] and lobbied on their behalf.[4] It also organised opportunities for industry executives to lobby MPs and Lords, such as a cocktail party and parliamentary lunches.[5][6]

The TAC worked on countering a range of 'threats' to the industry, such as health risks caused by second-hand smoke.[7] It also appears to have produced a regular newsletter called Hear the other side, which put forward industry arguments on issues such as workplace smoking.[8] In the 1980s and 1990s, the TAC employed the public relations company Edelman.[9][10]

A Brief History

A TMA memorandum to the House of Commons Select Committee on Health in 2000 outlined the history of the TAC and how it became the TMA:[2]

"The Tobacco Manufacturers' Standing Committee (TMSC) was established in June 1956. It was formed by UK tobacco companies to sponsor research into smoking and health questions and to make information available to scientific researchers and the public... In January 1963 the TMSC became known as the Tobacco Research Council (TRC) in recognition of its direct involvement in smoking and health research... In August 1978, the TRC was reconstituted as the Research Committee on the Tobacco Advisory Council (TAC) to reflect the increasing emphasis on its own research programmes and expenditure. The TAC also absorbed the Tobacco Advisory Committee, a body initially established in the 1940s to advise the Government on the buying of leaf overseas but whose role had developed over the years to become more concerned with public relations issues and commercial matters of significance to its members."

It continued:

"In January 1994 there was a further name change to the TMA as it was felt that the name TAC did not clearly reflect the change of focus in its role to that of a trade association for the UK companies, representing them in negotiations and other dealings with government and other authorities on issues of concern and interest to them."

'He Knows Exactly Where We Are Vulnerable... Dying Smokers'

A letter from ADC Turner, the TAC's Executive Director Industry Affairs, to member companies in October 1993 complained about the effectiveness of an ASH spokesman, Stephen Woodward. Turner wrote: "He goes for the soft underbelly all the time and knows exactly where we are vulnerable... with invitations to come and see dying smokers which he can number in the tens of thousands wherever he may be in the world etc."

He added: "Next time those of us concerned with such matters meet together I want to talk about what effective counters there are available to me on certain of the assertions and invitations made, and I suggest this is important if we assume Mr. Woodward is likely to be around us for the foreseeable future."[11]

Junk Science

An August 1993 letter from the TAC to member companies outlined a proposed seminar on what it called "junk science". The TAC was to contact Lord Stoddart and ask him to invite the following people, "on his notepaper":[12]

  • Dr James Lefanu to chair the meeting
  • Dr Gio Gori to question the introduction of legislation on "unsound scientific argumentation and assertions"
  • Dr Petr Skrabanek (a Reader in community health at Trinity College in Dublin) to reinforce the above
  • Peter Lee to be the statistical expert

Notes

  1. Members as of August 1994 - see Tobacco Advisory Council, INDUSTRY ISSUES DOSSIER MEMORANDUM SUBMITTED BY THE TOBACCO ADVISORY COUNCIL TO THE HOUSE OF COMMONS SELECT COMMITTEE ON HEALTH, 3 August 1994, accessed 10 February 2012
  2. 2.0 2.1 TMA, Memorandum by the Tobacco Manufacturers' Association, Commons Select Committee on Health website, 6 March 2000, accessed 10 February 2012
  3. Dr. Hare, Note from DR Hare to P Veen enclosing notes of meeting held at the Department of Health, 30 November 1993, accessed 10 February 2012
  4. Dr. Hare, Meeting with Neil Hamilton MP - Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Corporate Affairs, Tobacco Advisory Council, 22 October 1993, accessed 10 February 2012
  5. D. Swann, TAC Autumn Cocktail Party for Parliamentarians, Tobacco Advisory Council, 19 November 1993
  6. Paula Carswell, Parliamentary Lunches, Tobacco Advisory Council, 19 May 1993
  7. David J Edelman Ltd, Managing The ETS Issue, 18 June 1987, accessed 10 February 2012
  8. Ben Walsh, Letter regarding the latest edition of Hear the Other Side, Tobacco Advisory Council, 12 November 1993, accessed 10 February 2012
  9. Daniel J Edelman Limited, Communicating the Case for Tobacco: Review and Forward Planning for TAC, 27 March 1993, accessed 10 February 2012
  10. David J Edelman Ltd, Managing The ETS Issue, 18 June 1987, accessed 10 February 2012
  11. ADC Turner, Note regarding October Media Blitz, , Tobacco Advisory Council, 12 October 1993, accessed 10 February 2012
  12. ADC Turner, Junk Science Seminar, Tobacco Advisory Council, 31 July 1993, accessed 10 February 2012