Tobacco industry activity Minnesota
Tobacco control activism has long presented problems for the tobacco industry in Minnesota. By the late 1980s, the industry had been losing legislative battles in Minnesota that it was routinely able to win in other states. They needed to figure out why. This report discusses the reasons why things weren't going the tobacco industry's way in Minnesota, and what they planned about it. It is a road map for how to control Minnesota's state legislature and the media:
The purpose of this report is...to implement a plan which will help ensure future industry success in Minnesota.... Programs outlined in the following pages are ambition and "people-intensive." They cannot be put in place overnight. As noted in the report, emphasis will be placed on tobacco industry personal/political relationships with key lawmakers, in conjunction with continuing legislative grassroots program. Background Minnesota, the first state to enact a Clean Indoor Air Act (1975), has been dogged in its legislative assaults on the tobacco industry. What makes the state so anti-tobacco? ....It would be easy to over-generalize and say merely because it is Minnesota that there is nothing we can do about our legislative plight. We do not believe this is the case and will make recommendations on how to deal with the situation in that state... The Anti-Tobacco Climate .... The Anti's Play Their Trump ....Under the guise of health issues, Sister Mary Madonna was able to utilize the services of a U.S. Surgeon General for a series of health conferences that extolled the virtues of a smokeless workplace, using thousands of state employees as guinea pigs in their "noble experiment."... Industry Response... Here is a summary of our grassroots activities during the 1987 legislative session: * From April 6, 1987, to adjournment, a continuous, six-day-per-week phone bank was targeted specifically to Tax Committee members in the House and Senate. This...coordinated stream of calls was directed to retailers, wholesalers, all retail tobacco licensees and local activists. * An initial 6,700 post cards were mailed to selected retail contacts supplied by R.J. Reynolds. * An extensive letter-writing program was generated by Philip Morris... * A second wave of Philip Morris targeted letter-writing was a mailing of 10,000 packets to previous volunteers urging hand-written letters to legislators in both houses... * The third wave of Philip Morris targeted letter-writing was a re-contact program...Each person was urged to contact his or her legislator by utilizing the state legislative "hot line." * The final phase of Philip Morris activity was a request to each sales force employee to contact his or her state legislator urging a defeat of a tax increase. * An extensive and comprehensive phone bank program was conducted with several thousand contacts in 18 legislative districts...This effort was activated and executed within a 36-hour period, producing a response equaling or exceeding 25 strong commitments for legislative contact, per district. * To emphasize the bootlegging issue, a phone bank effort was directed at convenience stores located along Minnesota's borders with Wisconsin, IOwa, North Dakota and South Dakota. * An additional 20,000 post cards were printed and distributed by wholesale, retail and member company personnel. The post card's theme: "Enough is enough!" ....Even though we blanketed the state with industry-generated, professionally prepared, targeted and timed grassroots activity, the missing factor was the human component.... ....The tobacco industry has not developed any local political identity...We remain an alien corporate entity, not a voter. This will change. A legislator must identify the tobacco industry as a local interest group: a tobacco wholesaler, a tobacco retailer, a vendor...Unless a legislator can identify with our industry in the form of an individual, it is very easy for that legislator to vote against the industry without any fear of local accountability.
Title Minnesota Legislative Action Plan
Type Report, chart, graph, table, maps
Collection Philip Morris
This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.
Minnesota Coalition of Responsible Retailers
In the early 1990s, Minnesotans were successfully enacting tobacco control measures in their communities, and the tobacco industry was incurring important losses at both the local and state levels in Minnesota. The tobacco industry believed it had to act to stop people from putting in place laws detrimental to the industry. The industry was confronted by the fact that existing retail associations in Minnesota were not doing Philip Morris' (PM's) bidding. Tobacco was apparently not a top priority for most of Minnesota's retailers, who were concerned about many other issues as well. To remedy this situation, PM organized a new statewide retailer coalition called the "Minnesota Coalition of Responsible Retailers," (MCCR) expressly for the purpose of defeating tobacco control ordinances at the local level throughout Minnesota. A joint proposal from a public relations specialist and an attorney to organize this group for PM states: "...The retailers in Minnesota have not been as politically active on tobacco issues as the tobacco industry would desire. In addition, state retail trade associations are faced with many priorities, only one of which is tobacco sales. They are also hampered by limited financial and staff resources..." PM's new coalition was well-financed, according to the document. The proposed budget for MCCR reveals that the first year's budget for administration alone was $80,000 to $100,000 (not including the cost of phone banks, mailers and other methods of "grassroots" opposition.)  
Additional documents serve as proof that Philip Morris acted on this proposal and used this coalition to interfere with local affairs in Minnesota:
- The script PM provided MCCR members to use at city council hearings to oppose an ordinance that would restrict tobacco ads in stores in Brooklyn Center, MN.
- O'Connor, Snelling Christensen The Minnesota Coalition of Responsible Retailers: A Coalition Building Plan Proposal. July 1992. 19 pp. Philip Moris Bates No.2048351808/1826
- Minnesota Coalition of Responsible Retailers Status Report 960215 Report. February 15, 1996. Bates No. 2048286396
- The Minnesota Coalition of Responsible Retailers City of Brooklyn Center Script December, 1993. Philip Morris Bates No. 2048100156