In an analysis that appears in the June issue of the American Journal of Public Health, the UCSF team reports that Philip Morris advertised in the gay media in an attempt to "own the market," but then quickly distanced itself. According to Elizabeth A. Smith, PhD, research associate in the UCSF School of Nursing department of social and behavioral sciences and lead author of the paper, "Philip Morris wanted the gay market but didn't want to be publicly associated with the community."
In a related analysis appearing in the June issue of Tobacco Control, UCSF School of Nursing researchers describe the beginnings of Philip Morris' relationship with the gay community through analysis of a 1990-91 boycott of Marlboro and Miller beer.
The boycott was designed by ACT-UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) to persuade Philip Morris to withdraw support from Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC). Reviewing previously secret internal company documents, the researchers found that, ultimately, the boycott inspired the tobacco company to use philanthropy to gain the gay community's support. "Philip Morris settled the boycott by agreeing to financially support groups fighting HIV/AIDS," said Naphtali Offen, B.S., a research associate in the UCSF School of Nursing department of social and behavioral sciences and lead author.
Following the boycott, Philip Morris began advertising in the gay periodical Genre. However, when this venture was publicized, the company immediately backtracked, denying that the magazine was "gay" and claiming they had no knowledge of the gay market, according to the research team.
"Philip Morris wanted to have it both ways," said Smith. "The company was undermining gay men's health by selling them a
Contact: Maureen McInaney
University of California - San Francisco