Good news for the last three smokers in America. Altria, the Potemkin corporation that fronts for Philip Moris, has just established a front group for itself.
Altria’s tobacco operating companies launched Citizens for Tobacco Rights, a Website for adult tobacco consumers who are interested in information and advocacy on tobacco-related public policy issues.
Citizens for Tobacco Rights is a group of adult smokers and dippers joining together to get active on issues they care about. The group is supported by Philip Morris USA, U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. and John Middleton.
Citizens for Tobacco Rights, meanwhile, is a classic example of the “puffers groups” Christopher Buckley lampooned in his 1994 novel Thank You for Smoking.
Buckley also has fun with the tobacco industry’s tactic of using PR firms to organize “astroturf” grassroots lobbies, when Nick [Naylor, the protagonist] addresses a DC meeting of “the puffers”, a front group modeled after the National Smokers Alliance run by Burson-Marsteller: ‘They championed the rights of the oppressed smoker who couldn’t find a smoking section in a restaurant, or who had to leave his desk and go stand in the snow to have a cigarette. They targeted local politicians who favored anti-smoking ordinances, attacked the surgeon general much more viciously than the [tobacco industry] itself could, organized ‘smoke-ins’ . . . and distributed morale-boosting T-shirts and caps with pro-smoking emblems modeled on the oId Black Panther salute: upraised fists holding cigarettes. Ostensibly, these were grassroots, heartbeat-of-America (or heart-attack-of-America) citizens groups …. In actual fact, there wasn’t really anything spontaneous about the rise of these groups. They were front groups… almost entirely funded by the [tobacco industry], with the money being laundered–legally–by giving it to various middle- men who, posing as anonymous donors, passed it along to the groups as contributions. The whole operation cost next to nothing, relatively, and this way tobacco’s friends in the House and Senate could stand up and point to them as evidence of a groundswell ….
Citizens for Tobacco Rights. Life imitating art imitating life.
Smoke ’em if you got ’em.