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The 13th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health
Building capacity for a tobacco-free world
July 12-15, 2006, Washington, DC, USA
Objective: During the past decade, Philip Morris has initiated numerous overtures toward tobacco control and other public health organizations, including attempting to engage in dialogue on harm reduction and regulatory policy and supporting Food and Drug Administration regulation of tobacco products. This study utilized internal Philip Morris documents to explore these efforts.
Methods: More than 600 internal tobacco company documents made available through multi-state U.S. Attorneys General lawsuits were analyzed to prepare this case study of Philip Morris's Project Sunrise.
Results: Project Sunrise, initiated in 1995 and proposed to continue through 2006, was a long-term plan to address tobacco industry delegitimization and ensure the social acceptability of smoking and of the company itself. Project Sunrise laid out an explicit divide-and-conquer strategy against the tobacco control movement, proposing the establishment of relationships with PM-identified “moderate” tobacco control individuals and organizations and the marginalization of others. PM planned to use “carefully orchestrated efforts” to exploit existing differences of opinion within tobacco control, weakening its opponents by working with them. PM also planned to thwart tobacco industry delegitimization by repositioning itself as “responsible”. We present evidence that these plans were implemented. Project Sunrise exposes differences within the tobacco control movement that should be further discussed. As the successes of the last 25 years embolden advocates to think beyond passage of the next policy or program, the movement's philosophical differences may become more important. If tobacco control advocates do not address them, Project Sunrise suggests that Philip Morris is ready to exploit them.