Joshua Slavitt

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

Joshua Slavitt was a Philip Morris Issues Manager, 1992, and served as Director of Policy & Programs at Philip Morris Management Corporation. Slavitt handled the "Ask First, It's the Law" program for Philip Morris.

Tobacco industry documents

Anti-tobacco industry plan

Slavitt authored Philip Morris' Anti-Tobacco Industry Plan, a comprehensive, long term plan by PM to divide the ranks of tobacco control groups and weaken their efforts to reduce tobacco use. Slavitt was regarded as an internal expert at PM on public health advocates and authorities (known inside the tobacco industry as "the antis") and their strategies. PM regarded the "antis" as competitors seeking to take away market share. One strategy outlined in the plan was to cause dissent among to tobacco control groups by "enhancing internal conflicts" among them. To carry out the strategy, recommended PM seek out "moderate" anti-tobacco groups, find ways to enter into relationships with them and get them to work with the company in some cooperative capacity. Another strategy Slavitt proposed was to "limit or redirect" public health funding away from tobacco control programs PM didn't like, and direct it instead towards programs of which PM approved (that didn't harm cigarette sales or the image of smoking) like youth education, preventing youth access, etc. Slavitt also recommended PM try to stimulate financial investigations of public health groups, as a way to weaken them and "challenge their so-called 'white hat' image with elected officials and the media."[1]

Surveillance of public health groups in Colorado

A 1993 email from Joshua Slavitt, then Philip Morris Issues Manager, discusses investigating Colorado public health advocacy and tobacco control groups and individuals to search for information PM could exploit to make trouble for these groups and people. To do this, Slavitt worked through a Denver-area public relations agency, Russell, Karsh and Hagan, and instructed them to " 'throw in the kitchen sink' " as we never know what ... might turn up on even an obscure organization or individual. "Slavitt gave strict orders to RKH employee Lindsay Steyer to hide PM's involvement in these activities. Slavitt instructed RKH to "be careful that nothing on [RKH employee Lindsay Steyer's] materials references her firm, or contains any other references to PM -- if there is a cover note, shred it. Please remember not to use a PM return address, or anything which indicates that he info emanated from us--PM postal stamp, etc." Tobacco control advocates sought a higher cigarette tax in Colorado in 1993-1994. [2]

PM involvement in Nevada

Another 1993 Philip Morris (PM) internal email by Josh Slavitt shows how the industry used its "responsible youth marketing activities" to convince Nevada's governor to appoint tobacco lobbyists to serve on the state's Tobacco Task Force, the group charged with reducing youth smoking in the state. Slavitt writes, "Anti groups are outraged...Examples like this make it imperative that we move forward in finalizing our plans to roll out the enhanced ITL [It's The Law] campaign as well as to respond to the upcoming Surgeon General's report which will focus on tobacco industry marketing activities and youth."[3]

"Fair Play" Strategy to weaken tobacco control movement

Slavitt authored at least three iterations of Philip Morris' "Fair Play strategy," a comprehensive, long-term plan to hamper the effectiveness of the tobacco control movement by diminishing funding, weakening credibility and causing in-fighting between groups. At least three such plans below were authored by Joshua Slavitt, policy issues director in PM's issues management division.[4][5] [6]

Additional references to Slavitt in literature

According to a 2008 expose' of the public relations industry by Bob Burton titled Inside Spin, the Dark Underbelly of the PR Industry, Joshua Slavitt, as policy issues director for PM, "flagged the need to divert funding away from advocacy efforts that 'are causing the most harm to the company'. Slavitt also suggested the company should 'recruit other industries and organizations that are interested in curtailing the efforts of consumer advocacy organizations.' "[7]


  1. Slavitt J Anti-Tobacco Industry Plan Report. Undated. 15 pp. Philip Morris Bates No. 2063393705/3719
  2. Slavitt J, Philip Morris Coalition for a Smoke-Free Colorado Email. May 27, 1993. Philip Morris Bates No. 2073248268A
  3. Slavitt J, Philip Morris Nevada and Youth Email. December 7, 1993. 2 pp. Bates No. 2023588666/8667
  4. Slavitt J., Philip Morris Public Policy Plan January 15, 1996. Bates No.
  5. Slavitt J., Philip Morris Policy Plan Draft December 12, 1996. Bates No. 2070437692/7704
  6. Slavitt J., Philip Morris Public Policy Plan - Draft January 30, 1997. Bates No. 2063393720/3726
  7. Burton B.Inside Spin: The Dark Underbelly of the PR Industry 2008. Allen and Unwin ISBN 1741752175. at Pg. 110.

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