Challenging Smoke-Free Policies Worldwide:
Tobacco Industry Programs and Front Groups

Please find below responses to October's question re: examples of suspected industry front groups posing as restaurant associations, pub owner associations, and hospitality coalitions.

The tobacco industry's strategy of using restaurant groups to thwart smoke-free policies is indeed a worldwide one (of which its "Courtesy of Choice" program is an key element). In countries where smoke-free policies are a popular tobacco control measure, as in the U.S., industry front groups are especially abundant. In some countries, however, the tobacco industry may not yet have felt the "need" to use front groups -- because it gets what it wants via alternative means or it has not yet been "threatened" by proposals for smoke-free legislation.

CAMEROON - Alphonse Issi, Mouvement National des Consommaturs
Outside of corporate associations run by the tobacco industry, e.g. the women's association of BAT (which shares an office with the company), we do not know of any associations or coalitions funded by the tobacco industry. If they exist, they work undercover, as Cameroon law forbids such practices.

CANADA - Christine Finlan, Coalition For a Tobacco-Free Peterborough
The "Courtesy of Choice" program stickers and logo were displayed on the door of a local restaurant in the City of Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. The City passed a 100% smoke- free by-law in 1997 with implementation in 2000. The by-law was amended in October, 2000 to include responsibilities for owners and operators to ensure compliance with the by-law. While this restaurant was not around when the by-law was passed, the owner of this restaurant became the most vocal opponent to the by-law as the implementation date approached and when the by-law was being enforced. The owner adapted the slogan and logo into buttons that staff wore in the restaurant (Restore Freedom of Choice) and they were available for sale at the cash. The owner was recently found guilty under the by-law and charged a fine of $2,000 + $500 victim surcharge. To the best of my knowledge that is the only obvious involvement with that program here in our community of Peterborough. The restaurant in question closed last month, of course the owner claimed it was due to the by-law.

CZECH REPUBLIC - Jiri Kozak, Czech Committee of EMASH
In the Czech Republic there is not any tobacco industry front group posing as a pub or restaurant association, as I know. Unfortunately people are allowed to smoke in any pub or restaurant in the country though there is a law, ten years old, which [bans] smoking during main meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner. Unfortunately it is followed nowhere. The new bill "on protection from harmful effects of smoking, alcohol and other drugs," which has been passed by the Government but not by the Parliament yet, asks for 40% places in restaurants and pubs for nonsmokers with separate air condition (but more than 70% adult population are nonsmokers!!). My opinion is that tobacco industry does not need any front group – their groups are very successful lobby groups.

UGANDA - Phillip Karugaba, TEAN
We have "Courtesy of Choice" in Uganda. It was launched on May 30th 2000 by Robert Lees, President of International Hotel and Restaurant Association, in conjunction with the Hotel & Catering Association of Uganda. The launch was sponsored by BAT and was attended by the Minister for Tourism, Trade & Industry Akaki Jovino, on the eve of World No Tobacco Day. The Minister estimated that a ban on smoking in public places would cause a loss of revenue for the hotels and restaurants by up to 20%.

Courtesy of Choice is featured in prime hotels and restaurants. Little green and white cards are placed on the tables indicating smoking and non-smoking sections. According to one hotel manager, his staff were taken for training on how to locate the smoking and non-smoking sections. This was after my query on why the smokers had the best tables. I have also seen Courtesy of Choice in Mombasa, Kenya this year. This was at a beach resort. The little cards are much the same as are used in Uganda.

URUGUAY - Eduardo Bianco, Sindicato Médico del Uruguay
In Uruguay, particularly in the capital Montevideo, many bars and restaurants have signs with the message "Living together in harmony" that mark the smokers' areas and non smokers' area. The signs are, evidently, a well organized campaign by the [tobacco] industry that has the support of: the Association of Hotels and Restaurants of the Uruguay, the Hotel and Dining Corporation, the Chamber of the Hotel and Tourist Industry of the Uruguay, and the International Hotel and Restaurant Association. We don't know if the industry has a similar relation with the Association of Bars and affiliates, but it is very probable that it does.On October 22, in the country's principle newspaper, there was an advertisement entitled "LIVING TOGETHER RESPECTFULLY" which said: " Respect is the base of the human relations. The key is in every person knowing from his/her rights come. We respect the spaces for smokers and not smokers. A message of British American Tobacco". In the legend it says: for more information on smoking, visit our page

USA - SC - Cindy Ogier, South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services
I know the South Carolina Hospitality Association was very involved in blocking the City of Charleston from imposing an ordinance for smoke-free restaurants. [Cindy also notes that the Iowa State Daily reported on Oct. that Philip Morris is providing financial backing to seven restaurant owners in Ames, Iowa who are fighting a city ordinances banning smoking in restaurants.]

USA - CO - Bonnie Mapes, Denver Public Health, Tobacco Prevention and Control Program
GASP of Colorado (the Group to Alleviate Smoking Pollution) has compiled a list of tobacco lobbyists and tobacco front groups operating on our state. For a copy contact or


"Guest Choice Network" -
A coalition of restaurant and tavern operators that fights government restrictions on alcohol and tobacco. Sponsors the "Nanny Awards," given to "those activists, organizations and bureaucrats who work tirelessly to restrict our food, beverage and lifestyle choices." Shares same address with Employment Policies Institute ( which fights increases in the minimum wage and opposing health insurance reform. Richard Berman is the Executive Director of both organizations. Tom Lauria, who used to work at the Tobacco Institute, speaks on behalf of Guest Choice.

FORCES International -
One of their action alerts calls on people to write letters to Honolulu city council (U.S. - HI) members urging them NOT to support a restaurant smoking ban because "Hawaii is very dependent on the Japanese tourists, and most of them smoke. Will they want to come to a city where they cannot be comfortable and smoke?" See For a related website, with links to affiliated groups in Canada, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, and the U.S., see


Essential Action
Global Partnerships for Tobacco Control

P.O. Box 19405 ~ Washington, DC 20036
Tel: +1 202-387-8030 ~ Fax: +1 202-234-5176