Philip Morris's failed experiment in Pittsburgh

J Health Polit Policy Law. 1992 Summer;17(2):329-51. doi: 10.1215/03616878-17-2-329.


The campaign for passage and implementation of Pittsburgh's Smoking Control Ordinance in 1987 illustrates the role controversy plays in tobacco control. Proponents of the ordinance sought at first to keep it noncontroversial, while the tobacco industry tried to defeat the ordinance by generating controversy, claiming that severe economic and social disruption would occur. After the ordinance had been in force for a year, Philip Morris tried to take over its implementation, seeking to redefine the central issue as one of social accommodation rather than health. To succeed, Philip Morris's effort had to be widely accepted and noncontroversial. Proponents of the ordinance countered with controversy to undermine the campaign and expose the company's intentions. The controversy made the established health organizations uncomfortable, causing them to play only a marginal role. Surprisingly, the people who prevailed were the nonsmokers' rights activists, a small group with limited resources.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Health Care Coalitions
  • Humans
  • Industry*
  • Mass Media
  • Pennsylvania
  • Politics*
  • Public Opinion
  • Smoking / legislation & jurisprudence*