Big Tobacco “Pull Out All Stops” for a Landmark Example: The Burswood Casino Case (2011)

Authors: Laura Bond, Julia Stafford and Mike Daube


Background: With the aid of internal tobacco industry documents, this paper provides a chronology of events documenting the role of the Philip Morris tobacco company in the 1993 litigation case against the Burswood International Resort Casino (BIRC). The paper also examines the implications of this case for the regulation of second hand smoke exposure.

Method: A systematic keyword search and analysis of internal tobacco industry documents was conducted using documents available on the World Wide Web through the Master Settlement Agreement.

Results: The industry documents provide comprehensive evidence that the Philip Morris tobacco company provided assistance to the BIRC in its defence against action by the Western Australian government. The Philip Morris tobacco company, along with others, sought to publicise and promote the outcome as a ‘landmark example’ to lobby against the implementation of indoor smoking bans.

Conclusion: Philip Morris’ investment in the BIRC defence demonstrated the industry’s recognition of the potential significance of the case beyond Western Australia. Involvement in the BIRC case assisted the wider tobacco industry by helping to prolong smoking at casinos and other Australian hospitality venues. The findings contribute to our understanding of the history of tobacco industry strategies implemented in Western Australia and internationally to slow tobacco control progress, and the preparedness of the tobacco industry to exploit favourable developments originating anywhere in the world.

Read more: Australasian Medical Journal