Tobacco use is distinguished from other health problems by the presence of an aggressive, multinational tobacco industry whose institutional goals are incompatible with those of public health. "Corporate social responsibility" (CSR) initiatives are an important and under-recognized means by which the tobacco industry seeks to thwart public health and create a tobacco-favorable policy environment in the US and globally. By engaging in "responsible" activities (such as establishing "youth smoking prevention" programs, and contributing to worthy causes), the tobacco industry enhances its image and counters negative publicity, frames the tobacco problem as one of "responsible" consumption and marketing, and provides policymakers with reasons to engage with the industry. The almost unlimited financial resources and ability of multinational tobacco companies to undermine public health efforts through CSR constitutes one of the greatest obstacles to stemming the tobacco epidemic, particularly in low and middle income countries. This application continues and extends our current research to address both US and African tobacco industry CSR initiatives and media responses to them, and to analyze their tobacco control implications.
The specific aims are:
Specific aim #1 : Investigate tobacco industry CSR initiatives in the US and selected African countries and their implications for the industry's ability to maintain a tobacco-favorable social and regulatory environment by a) retrieving and analyzing tobacco industry documents related to US and African CSR initiatives;and b) retrieving and analyzing CSR-related information on tobacco company websites;
Specific aim #2 : Examine media coverage of tobacco industry CSR initiatives in the US and Africa to determine the extent, content, and framing of coverage of such initiatives and the implications for tobacco control. This project will directly aid tobacco control efforts by exposing the underlying partnerships, tactics, and motivations guiding tobacco industry CSR activities, helping public health practitioners and policymakers more effectively counter them and insulate tobacco control policymaking from tobacco industry influences.

Public Health Relevance

Globally, tobacco is the second major cause of death, killing nearly 6 million people in 2011. Tobacco industry CSR initiatives impede tobacco control policy progress. Greater knowledge of these initiatives will guide the development of more informed and effective tobacco control responses in the US and Africa, helping to reduce tobacco use and its associated burden of disease and death.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Community Influences on Health Behavior (CIHB)
Program Officer
Bloch, Michele H
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University of California San Francisco
Other Health Professions
Schools of Nursing
San Francisco
United States
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McCandless, Phyra M; Yerger, Valerie B; Malone, Ruth E (2012) Quid pro quo: tobacco companies and the black press. Am J Public Health 102:739-50
Smith, Elizabeth (2012) Corporate image and public health: an analysis of the Philip Morris, Kraft, and Nestle websites. J Health Commun 17:582-600
Malone, Ruth E; Grundy, Quinn; Bero, Lisa A (2012) Tobacco industry denormalisation as a tobacco control intervention: a review. Tob Control 21:162-70
Smith, Elizabeth A; Novotny, Thomas E (2011) Whose butt is it? tobacco industry research about smokers and cigarette butt waste. Tob Control 20 Suppl 1:i2-9
Smith, Elizabeth A; McDaniel, Patricia A (2011) Covering their butts: responses to the cigarette litter problem. Tob Control 20:100-6
Forsyth, Susan R; Malone, Ruth E (2010) "I'll be your cigarette--light me up and get on with it": examining smoking imagery on YouTube. Nicotine Tob Res 12:810-6
Apollonio, Dorie E; Malone, Ruth E (2010) The "We Card" program: tobacco industry "youth smoking prevention" as industry self-preservation. Am J Public Health 100:1188-201
Tesler, Laura E; Malone, Ruth E (2010) "Our reach is wide by any corporate standard": how the tobacco industry helped defeat the Clinton health plan and why it matters now. Am J Public Health 100:1174-88
Malone, Ruth E; Smith, Elizabeth A (2009) Contact me soon!!! Confidential, risk-free opportunity! Tob Control 18:249
McDaniel, Patricia A; Malone, Ruth E (2009) The role of corporate credibility in legitimizing disease promotion. Am J Public Health 99:452-61

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