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Logo of tobcontTobacco ControlVisit this articleSubmit a manuscriptReceive email alertsContact usBMJ
 
Tob Control. 2005 August; 14(4): 272–277.
PMCID: PMC1343525
NIHMSID: NIHMS5864

The perimetric boycott: a tool for tobacco control advocacy

Abstract

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.

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