New Tobacco Control Archives Project Archivist

Edith Martinez, our former intern who has been assisting with the NHPRC project to process the AIDS History Project newly acquired collections, has joined the archives team as a part-time Project Archivist for the Tobacco Control Archives.

The Tobacco Control Archives (TCA) was established in 1994 with the initial support from the University of California Tobacco Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP), the Centers for Disease Control, and private funding.  The TCA serves as a major resource for public policy research. The Project Archivist is responsible for processing the TCA collections stored onsite and offsite. Over the past twenty years, the UCSF Archives & Special Collections has amassed an extensive collection of organizational records of government agencies and activist groups, as well as papers of individuals active in tobacco control. Currently TCA contains almost 100 collection titles, however only 40 of them are cataloged and even fewer are fully processed. The Project Archivist will arrange and describe the remaining unprocessed material, create or update finding aids, upload them to the Online Archive of California, create catalog records, and update the TCA section on the archives website.

Tobacco Industry Sponsorship of the Olympics: A Dive into the UCSF Truth Tobacco Industry Documents

This post highlights just a few of the over 14 million tobacco industry documents contained in the UCSF Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, a division of the UCSF Archives.

Could a sporting event like the Olympics ever equate with smoking? The games summon images of stamina, health, fortitude and strength, and for decades, the tobacco industry worked diligently to affiliate themselves with this major sporting event. Olympic games draw millions of eyes and the promotion and marketing opportunities were gold for the tobacco companies.

In 1936, RJ Reynolds’ Camel brand used Olympic speed skater Kit Klein to advertise the purported health effects of smoking on digestion:

Since 1988, each Olympic Games has adopted a tobacco-free policy but the tobacco industry has continued to create indirect associations in an effort to be connected with not only Olympic ideals but the worldwide platform the Games provide.

The Olympics as a powerful promotional tool: A 1980s memo in our British American Tobacco (BAT) records indicates executives considered the Olympics second only to Formula One motor racing as an effective sports-based “marketing platform.”  Into the 1990s, BAT affiliate UZBAT proudly proclaimed BAT sponsorship of Lina Cheryazova, 1994 Olympic Gold Medalist in freestyle skiing; and a 1992 memo between BAT and Singapore Tobacco Company, Korea, notes proposed Olympic team sponsorship in Thailand is illegal but ‘primary’ sponsors have been used as cover in the past.

The tobacco companies were so heavily invested in advertising and marketing around sporting events they could not risk censure from athletes. In a 1988 statement by Greg Louganis regarding tobacco sponsorship, the Olympian confessed, “I had become a slave to a tobacco company…Philip Morris representatives made it very clear that if I continued to speak out nationally [about tobacco and health], my career at, and association, with Mission Viejo [Realty Group, a PM subsidiary] would be over.”

The 1996 Centennial Olympic Games, Atlanta, Georgia:
Documents in our Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds collections demonstrate that despite the almost decade long tobacco-free policy of the Olympic Games, the companies were still planning promotions and marketing events. A 1996 Philip Morris memo shows the tobacco giant crafted a contract to place a Benson & Hedges ad on the back cover of the Ultimate Games Guide, a souvenir program of the 1996 Olympic Basketball games in Atlanta. Similarly, a 1995 RJ Reynolds email discusses a new tobacco company whose products could be introduced at the Games with catchy brands like Torch and Gold Medal, even going so far as to posit an “official cigarette of the 1996 Olympics.”

The “accommodation” of Olympic visitors who smoke was a hot topic in 1996 and one that allowed the companies to roll in promotional and marketing activities.  “Accommodation programs” were the tobacco industry’s way of holding off smoking bans by partnering with hospitality agencies (hotels and restaurants) to promote “choice”, “preference” and often the “solution” of improved ventilation in order to accommodate both smokers and non-smokers in public areas.

You can view these documents and millions more at the UCSF Industry Documents Library, where we collect and make available internal corporate documents produced by industries that distort science in an effort to influence policies meant to protect public health.

Searching Tobacco Archives: Sports and Chewing Tobacco

This is a guest post by Allen Smoot, UCSF Archives Intern.

As an intern for the UCSF Archives, I’ve been working on digitized state medical society journals and tobacco control collections. At UCSF, the Archives and the Industry Documents Library both house immense collections of tobacco-related material. In the Industry Documents Library there are millions of documents from tobacco companies about their manufacturing, marketing, and scientific research.  I narrowed in on chewing tobacco and how it became popular in the sporting world.

Image from "The case against smokeless tobacco: five facts for the health professional to consider," September 1980, page 4. https://www.industrydocumentslibrary.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/#id=fnyg0028

Image from “The case against smokeless tobacco: five facts for the health professional to consider,” September 1980, page 4.

Smokeless tobacco gained popularity in the United States in part because many jobs prohibited workers from smoking on site.  Advertising also played a role; for example, an article in 1980 outlined the various ways that tobacco companies targeted college campuses and youths through their advertising for chewing tobacco. A report in 1984 cited that in Atlanta, 11% of sample elementary and high school students regularly used snuff.

In the sports world, the numbers could be higher. The same 1984 report, for instance, noted that in a Texas sample, one in every three varsity college athletes on baseball or football teams took two to eight dips per day.  Sports idols like Sparky Lyle, former ace pitcher for the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers, contributed to chewing tobacco usage by serving as spokespersons for tobacco companies. Lyle promoted Levi Garrett pouch chewing tobacco on TV by claiming, “Most ball players dream about making it to the Hall of Fame, but I’d be satisfied for people just to remember me as the guy with the great chewing tobacco.”

Image from "The case against smokeless tobacco: five facts for the health professional to consider," September 1980, page 3. https://www.industrydocumentslibrary.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/#id=fnyg0028

Image from “The case against smokeless tobacco: five facts for the health professional to consider,” September 1980, page 3.

Smokeless tobacco was advertised as “macho” by sports figures which led to the increase in use by younger people (“Smokeless tobacco is ‘burning’ young athletes,” 1981).

You can read more documents related to smokeless tobacco online in the Industry Documents Library and in the State Medical Society Journals Collection. You can also visit the UCSF Archives and view the Tobacco Control Archives.