Attack on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
Tobacco Industry Attack on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)
In the U.S., the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) found itself the target of tobacco industry attack after its board voted to stop accepting cigarette ads on its vehicles and facilites in 1986. The Tobacco Institute (TI) devised a comprehensive plan to force MBTA to reverse the decision, using a number of different strategies to try and make this come about.
The TI incited ad agencies that had lost out on MBTA's advertising contracts in the past to sue MBTA for discrimination in its award processes. The TI tried to insert a clause in the state budget to force MBTA "to maximize ad revenues from all legal sources" (including tobacco) and use any excess money to aid the handicapped and the elderly. (The Institute referred to this as its "white hat proposal"). They forced the MBTA to supply it with copies of all of its records pertaining to contract awards by using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) laws. They tried to incite discontent in cities along MBTA's routes. They tried to get the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the labor unions to galvanize against MBTA. As a fall-back measure, they planned to influence their political allies in the federal government to cut MBTA's funding.
A 1986 Tobacco Institute memo about this plan states,
This memorandum will bring you up-to-date on the status of our program to reverse the action of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to ban cigarette advertising from the system's vehicles and facilities ...
... The best available means of extending [the amount time available to implement programs against MBTA] seems to be through the legal intervention of a third party - one of the [advertising] contract bidders or Local #391...who ultimately obtains a preliminary injunction...is irrelevant. The current issue is that someone obtain that order ...
... Our plan here is to continue to generate negative political response to the MBTA action in the cities and towns served by the MBTA.
...It is still possible that the MBTA ... might respond to pressure from federal office-holders who participate in the Congressional committees that have control over some forms of transit funding. These include the House Committee on Public Works and Transportation, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, the House Committee on Appropriations and the Senate Committee on Appropriations.
A second document about the effort against MBTA, by Roger L. Mozingo, Senior Vice President of the Tobacco Institute, states:
We have offered a measure that requires the MBTA to maximize advertising revenue from all legal sources and channel those funds to help the elderly and handicapped. This "white hat" proposal would supersede the ban on tobacco advertising and, in theory at least, require the MBTA to use all legal sources for this worthwhile project...[handwritten -->]...including tobacco advertising.
Related SourceWatch resources
- Tobacco industry harassment and intimidation
- Tobacco industry plan to attack the insurance industry over non-smoker rates
- Suspension of Dow Purchases (over Dow's advertising of Nicorette gum)
- Hospital Strategy Plan (To fight movement to ban smoking on hospital campuses)
- Dennis M. Dyer, Tobacco Institute MBTA Proposed Ban on Cigarette Advertising - Update #9 Memorandum. June 19, 1986. 4 pp. Bates No. TIOR0011648/1651
- Roger L. Mozingo, Tobacco Institute Executive CMTE Meeting Statement/testimony. April 7, 1988. 15 pp. Bates No. TIOK0019080/9094