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Study Shows Philip Morris Pursued Tobacco Regulation to Enhance Its Image

By Corinna Kaarlela, UCSF News Services | May 24, 2005

A new study by UCSF School of Nursing researchers shows that Philip Morris sought to enhance its image by supporting Food and Drug Administration regulation of tobacco.

Philip Morris was among major U.S. tobacco companies that previously sued the FDA when it attempted to regulate nicotine as a drug and cigarettes as nicotine delivery devices, but beginning in 2000, the company began aggressively pursuing FDA regulation.

"With image-shaping in mind, PM devoted enormous resources to achieving regulation -- but on its own terms," says senior study author Ruth Malone, RN, PhD. "While health advocates frame tobacco use as a public health policy issue, PM's regulatory efforts focused on framing tobacco use as an individual choice by informed adults to take a risk, which allowed the company to portray itself as a reasonable and responsible manufacturer of a risky product."

The plan was to divide public health groups and to set Philip Morris apart from other companies in an effort to achieve favorable regulation from a Republican-dominated Congress, according to Malone, who is an associate professor in the UCSF School of Nursing.

Read more at Corinna Kaarlela, UCSF News Services