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Am J Public Health. 2010 Jul;100(7):1174-88. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2009.179150. Epub 2010 May 13.

"Our reach is wide by any corporate standard": how the tobacco industry helped defeat the Clinton health plan and why it matters now.

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  • 1Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, School of Nursing, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143-0612, USA.


Contemporary health care reformers, like those who promoted the failed Clinton era plan, face opposition from multiple corporate interests. However, scant literature has examined how relationships between corporations and other stakeholders, such as think tanks and advocacy groups, shape health care reform debate. We show how the 2 biggest US tobacco companies, Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds, and their trade association coordinated in mobilizing ideologically diverse constituencies to help defeat the Clinton plan. Unwittingly perhaps, some reform supporters advanced the tobacco industry's public relations blitz, contributing to perceptions of public opposition to the plan. As the current reform debate unfolds, this case highlights the importance of funding transparency for interpreting the activities of think tanks, advocacy groups, and "grassroots" movements.

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