John Dollisson

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

John Dollisson (aka John Anthony Dollisson) was a CEO of Tobacco Institute of Australia (TI) in the 1980s who defended the sale of smaller cheap packets of cigarettes which critics maintained were clearly directed at the youth market. [1] He was closely associated with Donna Staunton, the lawyer lobbyist of Clayton Utz which protected and promoted the industry and the TIA. Also with Gary Berson of Robinson Cox the West Australian branch of the law firm who's managing partner was Julie Gillon. She later reverted to her maiden name of Julie Bishop entered politics, and became (a few years later) Australia's foreign minister.

Dollisson ran the national TIA in the period 1982-84, following his successful period in charge of the Western Australian branch office. [2] At this time, Western Australia had very high rates of smoking related lung-cancer -- mostly because of the synergies with asbestos [The state was a major world producer of blue asbestos at Wittenoom] and this resulted in one of the first cigarette tobacco advertising bans. The global industry feared that this was the beginning of a public health trend, and they threw resources into squashing all anti-tobacco activities and litigation in the state. Robinson Cox worked both sides of this litigation, defending against health claims for both tobacco and asbestos.

The TIA launched a public awareness campaign in WA print media on 5 September 1983 asking Western Australians to “Think. Is it best for the West?” (see Figures 3 and 4).74 The ‘Think’ campaign, authorised by John Dollisson, TIA Chief Executive Officer, consisted of a series of five advertisements describing those calling for the bans as bullies and as being responsible for cancelling sporting events, destroying cricket, threatening basic freedoms and putting Western Australians out of work.80-84 The campaign was supported by 22 businesses and sporting organisations whose names were featured on the base lines of each advertisement. The advertisements provide examples of common tobacco industry strategies for slowing down proposed tobacco control initiatives. The advertisements assisted the TIA to frame the debate in terms of restrictions on basic freedoms, the irreplaceable nature of tobacco sponsorship funds and the range of disastrous consequences on the state of such a ban. The advertising campaigns were designed specifically and solely for use in WA, and demonstrate the seriousness with which the tobacco industry attempted to protect its interests in WA.>[3]

John Dollisson then became Vice President of Philip Morris Corporate Affairs in the Asian and Australian regions. He held this position from October 2, 1989 to October 1, 1990. Dollison was transfered to the Corporate Affairs division of Philip Morris in New York under the Australian management cabal of Geoff Bible, Bill Murray and Andrew Whist. [4]


John Anthony Dollison, an executive in Philip Morris' Corporate Affairs Department, was highly contemptuous of public health authorities. In a 1988 speech, he called them "Meusli-eating, stool-watching joggers who know what is best for all of us."[1]

In a 1990 speech before a marketing conference, Dollison described public health in general as PM's opponent in a "guerilla war," and described public health officials as "snipers" who have "laid their minefields." Dollisson even made biblical reference to the fight:

Our opponents sit and wait, watching our every move, every new product and every new marketing project... Like the proverbial lion in the Bible, they are poised to devour us whenever we give them an opportunity, and sometimes even when we don't....Today we are engaged in a 'war' against our industry... The kind of war we are engaged in is a guerrilla war...the most difficult kind of all. Our enemy might not be invisible but it often seems that way. Their tactics are to hit and run and then hit again...They have positioned their snipers and laid their minefields. It is the job of Corporate Affairs to discover where these threats are, and to warn you.

In a revealing description of PM's under-the-radar corporate tactics, Dollison boasted about how PM created and completely controlled a supposedly "independent" coalition called "The Committee for Freedom of Commercial Expression" in Denmark to oppose a tobacco ad ban directive. Dollison boasted about how this coalition was able to convince the Danish Ministry of Health to oppose a tobacco ad ban. He listed other countries where PM had used this secret tactic, and proposes that PM expand this tactic further to other countries:

In Denmark, for example, we have created a coalition known (in English) as the Committee for Freedom of Commercial Expression...we were able to recruit more than 50 prominent Danes...The group has conducted media briefings, participated in debates, and written articles and conducted and publicized an opinion poll...Members of Government (including the Minister of Health) now regularly...consult with coalition members...The coalition was instrumental in securing the commitment and public declaration of the Minister Of Health to oppose an advertising ban...And, finally, the functioning of the coalition is managed at arms length - distanced from P.M., although completely controlled by P.M....We have set up similar coalitions in Holland, New Zealand and EEC for sport. Many more are required...

Dollison also described how voluntary, self-imposed "advertising codes" (which, he admitted, make no more concessions than PM has already made in most countries in which they operate) help deflect further restrictions on tobacco advertising:

What I am talking about is a list of self-imposed [advertising] constraints which will enable us to more plausibly claim the high moral ground in future controversies and, not least, to more easily manage and possible triumph in future crises...Such a regime, effectively implemented and sold, I believe, have the inestimable advantage of repositioning Philip Morris in the world-wide debate over the rights and wrongs of tobacco. It would gain us support from those with no affection for our enemies but who also harbour deep suspicion of our motives and methods. It would give us just that little bit more breathing space, just that little bit more room to maneuver. Believe me, we need it.]

Dollisson returned to Australia became an advisor to the Prime Minister's department.

Later he founded and became chief executive of Media Partners, and then joined a West Australian signage company Lumacom Ltd. as its managing director (on a limited hours basis, with a starting remuneration package of $120,000). The company underwent restructuring and emerged as US Nickle Pty Ltd and he was then listed as a Non Executive Director; however the announcement of this appointment gives us some idea of his activities over the years -- he appears to have changed jobs on an annual basis:

John has previously held senior roles in the outdoor advertising industry including roles as:

  • President of the Outdoor Advertising Association of Australia until 2003.
  • Founding chairman of the International Advertising Association (IAA) branch in Hong Kong in 1992
  • Director of the Australian and New York (sic) chapter of the IAA.
  • founding CEO of Media Partners International (MPI(*Asia) which is now part of the JC DeCaux, the world's second largest outdoor advertising company.
  • Director of the Boyer Group Pry Ltd which was acquired by Pacific Investments.
  • Managing Director of International Sports Group Ltd. Australia
  • General Manager, Business Development and Industry Affairs, Eye Corp. Ltd (outdoor advertising subsidiary of Ten Network Ltd)
  • Vice President, Corporate Affairs Philip Morris International (New York USA).

John has 35 years experience in government, industry and sports marketing including 20 years in Asia including China. He has established, operated and listed advertising and sports management companies in Hong Kong, China and Australia.

(His credentials are)

  • Undergraduate degree in Economics and Politics (?? no Uni given)
  • MBA from the University of South Australia



His qualifications are now given as

  • 1995 Jan - 1996 Dec ANU/University of South Australia, BEC, BA and MBA in Business Administration
  • [Unspecified period] Australian National University, BEC, Economics, Statistics

Work experience

  • 1987 Jan — 1990 Dec VP, Corporate Affairs, World Wide Philip Morris International
  • 1990 Nov - 2000 Nov COO & MD Sports & Outdoor Media International Pls, Boyer Group Pty Ltd Media Partners International Limited
  • 2001 Jan - 2003 Dec General Manager, Business Development and Industry Affairs, Eye Corp Ltd
  • 2003 Jul - 2004-Dec Reviewed and advised on 5 family businesses from industrial, chemical, education, television and multi-level-selling
  • 2005 Jan — 2013 Sep Market Access especially China and SE Asia, strategy and media consulting, sports marketing, communications and PR, and general business consulting.
Business Consultant KK Modi Group, New Delhi, India
  • 2005 Jul - 2007 Sep Director and GM of Cricket Network - Demand Sport
Executive Chairman - Australasian Marketing Group
  • 2006 May - 2010 May Non Executive Director, Lumacom Ltd (US Nickel Pty Ltd)
  • 2006 May -2008 May General Manager Lumacom Ltd (later US Nickel Pty Ltd


  • 2008 May - 2013 Oct [Not specified - probably with Liberal Party Federal Government as advisor.
  • 2010 Sep 23 ... He made a second sworn statement before the Independent Commission Against Corruption. (ICAC) on Operation Siren over billboards erected outside Sydney Airport.


  • 2013 Oct He joined Apple and Pear Australia (APAL) the peak industry body for the apple and pear industry. [8]

His experience between leaving Philip Morris and APAL, according to a puff-piece, appears to have been filled with a (unknown) government appointment:

Dollisson has previously held senior positions within the Australian Government and tobacco giant Phillip Morris International, as well as Boyer group and Eye Corp amongst others.

Along with his experience in selling roadside billboards for Eye Corp. (working for the "outdoor media industries") his lobbying for tobacco was seen as evidence of public relations expertise:

Chairman John Lawrenson says although Mr Dollisson doesn't have a background in agriculture, he has skills the board was looking for.

"Anybody that can advocate for an industry as difficult to do as tobacco certainly has got some good advocacy skills," he said,

Shortly after he was listed as Deputy Chairman and spokesman for a lobby group "Voice of Horticulture" In October 2015 he is reported as holding successful meetings with the new Libera-Coalition Assistant Agriculture Minister, Senator Anne Ruston.

"She appreciates the need for HIA, Horticulture Innovation Australia to work closely with the grower owned entity because the pairing of the two will set longer term strategic objectives for horticulture from which R&D objectives can be driven, trade and marketing objectives can be driven, etc," Mr Dollison said.


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