The Creation of Industry Front Groups: The Tobacco Industry and "Get Government Off Our Back"

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Abstract

We investigated how industries use front groups to combat public health measures by analyzing tobacco industry documents, contemporaneous media reports, journal articles, and press releases regarding "Get Government Off Our Back," a coalition created by the tobacco industry.

RJ Reynolds created Get Government Off Our Back in 1994 to fight federal regulation of tobacco. By keeping its involvement secret, RJ Reynolds was able to draw public and legislative support and to avoid the tobacco industry reputation for misrepresenting evidence.

The tobacco industry is not unique in its creation of such groups. Research on organizational background and funding could identify other industry front groups. Those who seek to establish measures to protect public health should be prepared to counter the argument that government should not regulate private behavior.

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