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The perimetric boycott: a tool for tobacco control advocacy
  1. N Offen,
  2. E A Smith,
  3. R E Malone
  1. University of California, San Francisco, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Naphtali Offen
 Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences Box 0612, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA;


Objectives: To propose criteria to help advocates: (1) determine when tobacco related boycotts may be useful; (2) select appropriate targets; and (3) predict and measure boycott success.

Methods: Analysis of tobacco focused boycotts retrieved from internal tobacco industry documents websites and other scholarship on boycotts.

Results: Tobacco related boycotts may be characterised by boycott target and reason undertaken. Most boycotts targeted the industry itself and were called for political or economic reasons unrelated to tobacco disease, often resulting in settlements that gave the industry marketing and public relations advantages. Even a lengthy health focused boycott of tobacco industry food subsidiaries accomplished little, making demands the industry was unlikely to meet. In contrast, a perimetric boycott (targeting institutions at the perimeter of the core target) of an organisation that was taking tobacco money mobilised its constituency and convinced the organisation to end the practice.

Conclusions: Direct boycotts of the industry have rarely advanced tobacco control. Perimetric boycotts of industry allies offer advocates a promising tool for further marginalising the industry. Successful boycotts include a focus on the public health consequences of tobacco use; an accessible point of pressure; a mutual interest between the target and the boycotters; realistic goals; and clear and measurable demands.

  • ACT-UP, AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power
  • APHA, American Public Health Association
  • BAT, British American Tobacco
  • B&W, Brown and Williamson
  • CLASH, Coalition of Lavender-Americans on Smoking and Health
  • GASP, Georgians Against Smoking Pollution
  • GLAAD, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation
  • LGBT, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
  • PM, Philip Morris
  • RJR, RJ Reynolds
  • STAT, Stop Teenage Addiction to Tobacco
  • advocacy
  • boycotts
  • industry documents
  • tobacco control

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