Tobacco Majors Stifled Nicotine Gum Ads

San Francisco, Aug 17: | Updated: Aug 18 2002, 05:30am hrs
When pharmaceutical companies came out with nicotine gum and patches as aides to help people stop smoking, big tobacco companies reacted by threatening financial harm to the drug companies if they didnt back-off anti-smoking marketing campaigns, a new study from the university of California reports.

Researchers found the tobacco companies could wield a big financial stick over the makers of products like Nicorette gum and Habitrol nicotine patch because those same companies made millions selling chemicals used in the growing of tobacco. For example, tobacco maker Philip Morris regularly paid millions for chemicals made by Dow Chemical Company, which also owned Marion Merrell Dow maker of Nicorette gum. When Philip Morris cancelled those purchases as a means of protesting the anti-smoking materials included in Nicorette marketing packages, Dow immediately backed off its marketing campaign.

A similar situation arose with Philip Morris and Ciba-Geigy, manufacturer of the nicotine patch Habitrol. Ciba-Geigy was also a major producer of agriculture products and it, too, toned down anti-tobacco marketing when faced with threats from Philip Morris. In a memo titled groundrules Ciba-Geigys pharmaceutical and agricultural divisions agreed that Habitrol would not be marketed with an anti-smoking theme and that the company would not endorse positions that take away the freedom of choice for smokers.