Project Partner was an effort by Brown & Williamson to utilize its sales force to create a grassroots strike force to "slow enactment of legislative restrictions on tobacco especially at the state and local levels of government." B&W launched the project in 1996 and it became operational in 1997.
B&W designed the program to "permit the company to compete not only against anti-tobacco zealots but also with competitors who seek to use government regulations as marketing tools." (It is likely that the primary "other competitor" to which B&W refers is Philip Morris.) Partners in B&W's program include property rights groups, retail associations, hospitality businesses, bowling, bingo and anti-tax groups. The implementation plan anticipates that the newly-created grassroots network will bring attention to legislative issues that are important to the company and that "On some occasions, such attention will allow B&W positions to be written into law."
A report dated after the launch of Project Partner reveals that in a single year (1999), B&W used Project Partner to organize "grassroots" opposition to cigarette tax increases in Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and West Virginia; to organize opposition to a Nevada bill to repeal statewide preemption, and oppose a ban on self-service cigarette displays in Maine. While the self-service display ban passed in Maine, B&W's report boasts about how it was able to shape the legislation to benefit the company.
An undated report shows B&W activating Project Partner to fight self-service display bans in multiple states.
A 1998 memo shows B&W instructing its sales force to stay "attuned to relevant anti-tobacco activities" in their regions and report such activity to an 800 number so B&W can activate Project Partner in that area.
Another report describes Project Partner as "a national grassroots effort designed to protect our livelihoods against unfair attacks from over-zealous anti-tobacco forces."
Title PROJECT PARTNER IMPLEMENTATION PLAN
Date 00000000 (undated)
Collection Brown & Williamson