From SourceWatch
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Italy is a southern European country, a peninsula extending into the Mediterranean Sea and includes the islands of Sicily and Sardinia. It is a founding member of both NATO and the European Union. [1]


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

Tobacco document information on Italy

An outline produced Philip Morris (PM) lists the company's corporate goals and "action points" for Italy in 1993. PM's goals include changing Italy's laws to benefit the company, achieving a restructuring of tax laws to benefit the company, promoting legislation that would benefit the company, recruiting third parties to help the company prevent restrictions on public smoking, preparing a study (the pre-determined results of which would persuade authorities to act to benefit the company) and developing smokers rights groups to oppose smoking restrictions. The document mentions developing smokers rights clubs through the Zurich Club.[2]

A 1986 Philip Morris market planning document for Italy calculates future cigarette consumption in Italy based in part on the cigarette consumption of what PM itself it refers to as "underage smokers," and discusses "The youngest adult segment, ages 15-24..." PM also acknowledges in the document that anti-smoking campaigns and social pressures are effective at lowering smoking rates, saying "Anti-smoking campaigns and social pressure against smoking influence the numbers of people who stop smoking," ....but the document also says that PM needn't worry too much about this because "In the medium term the effect [of these campaigns and social pressures] will not be as strong because of the existence of a large reserve of young smokers." The document also discusses how the symbolism of smoking as an initiation into adulthood is an important marketing tool for influencing young people to smoke, saying "Smoking has been a symbol of emancipation and has been a very important factor influencing those who start smoking." [3]

A 1988 Philip Morris matrix/chart lists "to-do" type tasks for the company to address secondhand smoke issues in Europe. Tasks listed include "Restore Smoker Confidence," "Reverse Health Perception," "Establish/Maintain/Exploit Smoker Clubs," "Resist Smoking Restriction" and others. Check boxes are provided for the countries of Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait GCC [Gulf Council Countries], Turkey, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark.[4]

Italian ban on cigarette advertising

Italy banned direct cigarette advertising in 1962, but Philip Morris considered this a "unique opportunity" to communicate with smokers through other channels. A 1986 internal Philip Morris company presentation describes techniques the company used to circumvent the ban.

The presentation demonstrates, that PM viewed Italy's ad ban as an opportunity that lead them to new and more pervasive marketing ideas, like creating Marlboro fashion wear and Marlboro travel vacations (which constitute not cigarette ads, but clothing and travel ads, respectively).

Philip Morris violated not only the spirit of the law, but when it deemed the risk of being caught was sufficiently low, also the letter of the law:

"... Finally, we even advertised in some periods when the risk of being fined was perceived to be lower ..." ...In discotheques we organized the show distributing 800,000 stickers, promotional material...and sampling..."...Here is [a picture of] the contact of the public by the hostesses ... The questionnaire is filled out ... the distribution of the leaflet ... and finally, as long as the hostess did not have the misfortune to meet a Government's Inspector, the sampling ..."

Note the use of terms in the document like "para-advertising," "diversification" and "co-advertising" that denote the ways PM got around the Italian ad ban. PM scoffed at one effort of a local Italian government to get it to comply with the spirit of the law and stop it from promoting its disease-causing product in the community:

"... unfortunately local authorities do not always understand the word diversification ... [showing a photo of a banner with the word "Marlboro" covered] this is what happened last week in Sicily, where the city hall covered the word MARLBORO ..."

Also, the document indicates the introduction of several promotional techniques that were particularly damaging, like Philip Morris' new "World Tennis Championship of Doctors" featuring tennis-playing professors.[5]


  1. Italy, National Geographic, accessed November 2007.
  2. 930000 Action Points - Italy Presumed corporate author Philip Morris. Report. 3pp. March 15, 1993.
  3. Philip Morris Italy Smoking Incidence Trend July 26, 1986. 95 pp. Bates No.2501078739/8833
  4. Philip Morris Overall Plan Matrix Chart/graph. August 9, 1988. Bates No. 2501046475
  5. Philip Morris Italy Total Communcation Ban: A Unique Approach Presentation. April, 1986. 23 pp. Bates No. 2501174489/4511