TOBACCO: Top Gore Aide Linked to Tobacco Industry
Vice President Al Gore's top media advisor, advertising consultant Carter Eskew, announced in an interview Wednesday that he is severing all ties to tobacco giant Philip Morris Companies after working with the company this spring to create a television ad campaign intended to pre-empt the planned federal suit against the tobacco industry. Eskew effectively ended his tobacco work in July when he took a leave of absence from his firm, Bozell/Eskew, "to become the Gore campaign's top media advisor," the New York Times reports. Eskew also collaborated last year on a "$40 million advertising blitz" credited with helping defeat anti-tobacco legislation in the Senate that would have assessed "hundreds of billions of dollars against the industry." That legislation would have raised prices to cut tobacco demand. Last winter, following Clinton's 1999 State of the Union announcement describing potential federal action against the tobacco industry, the country's largest cigarette companies, led by Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco and Brown & Williamson Tobacco, convened a team of public relations advisors to prepare a response. The companies contacted media personnel and politicians to promote their stance that any lawsuit brought by the government "was unfounded because the Justice Department did not have the legal basis to bring such an action," but Philip Morris officials hoped to extend the strategy to include a television ad campaign. Eskew served as a consultant on the project, based in part on the theme of "taxation through litigation," but Philip Morris opted not to produce the commercials. So far, Congress has stymied a Clinton Administration push to add $20 million to the Justice Department's appropriations bill to fund litigation against cigarette manufacturers that was announced last week (Meier, 10/1).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.