Tobacco Industry’s T.O.T.A.L. Interference (2018)

Authors: Lisa Henriksen and Maggie Mahoney

Swedish Match and the National Association of Tobacco Outlets launched a website in 2016 that encourages retailers and policy makers to oppose regulating the tobacco retail environment.1 2 T.O.T.A.L., an acronym for Tobacco Ordinances – Take Another Look, features talking points for defeating U.S. state and local efforts to restrict the sale of flavoured tobacco, regulate tobacco product displays in stores, restrict price discounting by eliminating coupon redemption and other discounts, increase the minimum package size of small cigars, and increase the minimum legal purchase age to 21. The industry website highlights U.S. cities where such restrictions are proposed and uses video testimonials to engage retailers in opposition.

T.O.T.A.L. employs many of the same arguments that the tobacco industry uses to influence marketing restrictions in other countries. Using a taxonomy of argument frames identified by Savell and her colleagues,3 table 1 lists the talking points from the website that illustrate industry claims about insufficient evidence (policy is not evidence-based), legal objections (policy is illegal), regulatory redundancy (policy is unnecessary) and negative unintended consequences (policy will incur unanticipated economic, health or other costs).

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