Committee for Freedom of Commercial Expression

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.

The Committee for Freedom of Commercial Expression (CFCE) was a front group formed circa 1990-1991 in Denmark by Philip Morris Corporate Affairs to oppose a European Economic Community directive to ban cigarette advertising. According to a, August 16, 1990 speech by Robert "Bobby" Kaplan, Manager of Communications at Philip Morris International, to participants at a PM marketing training conference, the CFCE enabled Philip Morris to "recruit more than 50 prominent Danes, including a leading Constitutional lawyer, the President of a major brewery, a leading Danish writer and philosopher and a well known architect" to lobby, conduct media briefings, participate in debates, write articles and conduct and publicize an opinion poll "which showed more than 70% of Danes opposed the EEC advertising Directive/and any move to ban tobacco advertising." Philip Morris positioned the CFCE as "the voice of commercial free speech" in the EEC, carefully crafting its credibility and elevating media awareness of the group to the point that Members of government (including the Minister of Health) "regularly initiated and consulted with coalition members." PM credited the CFCE with securing Denmark's neutrality on the Advertising directive and the European Council in May, 1990. According to Kaplan's speech, CFCE generated substantial positive media coverage and "orchestrated the public release of the International Publishers Association's declaration opposing tobacco advertising bans."

The CFCE was successful because it was "managed at arm's length--distanced from Philip Morris," according to Kaplan. PM assisted in establishing similar front-group advertising coalitions in Holland, New Zealand and the EEC to help preserve tobacco industry sponsorship of sports. [1]


  1. Kaplan R, Philip Morris International Speech by Bobby Kaplan, Manager of Communications - PMI/CA International Marketing Training Conference 900816 Speech. 17 pp. August 16, 1990. Bates No.2500120186/0202

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