Corporate philanthropy, lobbying, and public health policy

Am J Public Health. 2008 Dec;98(12):2123-33. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2007.128231. Epub 2008 Oct 15.


To counter negative publicity about the tobacco industry, Philip Morris has widely publicized its philanthropy initiatives. Although corporate philanthropy is primarily a public relations tool, contributions may be viewed as offsetting the harms caused by corporate products and practices. That such donations themselves have harmful consequences has been little considered. Drawing on internal company documents, we explored the philanthropy undertaken as part of Philip Morris's PM21 image makeover. Philip Morris explicitly linked philanthropy to government affairs and used contributions as a lobbying tool against public health policies. Through advertising, covertly solicited media coverage, and contributions to legislators' pet causes, Philip Morris improved its image among key voter constituencies, influenced public officials, and divided the public health field as grantees were converted to stakeholders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Advertising* / methods
  • Focus Groups
  • Fund Raising / organization & administration*
  • Global Health
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Lobbying*
  • Mass Media
  • Organizational Culture
  • Organizational Objectives
  • Organizational Policy
  • Pilot Projects
  • Public Health* / methods
  • Public Opinion
  • Public Relations
  • Smoking / mortality
  • Social Marketing*
  • Social Perception
  • Social Responsibility
  • Taxes
  • Tobacco Industry / organization & administration*
  • United States / epidemiology