For years the tobacco industry has been using restaurant trade associations as front groups in its battle to keep Americans puffing. Now this strategy is documented on a new web site hosted by the University of California-San Franciso. "If Big Tobacco can't buy hospitality groups to serve as fronts, it sets up its own," the site states. Examples include the "California Business and Restaurant Alliance" and the ""Beverly Hills Restaurant Association" (created by a Tobacco Institute PR firm). In other cases, the industry uses offers of funding to buy the loyalty of groups like the National Restaurant Association and the American Beverage Institute. Ironically, the victims of this flackery include restaurant owners themselves, who are hoodwinked by bogus research into believing that tobacco restrictions will cost them money -- even though restaurants end up footing the bill for insurance, maintenance and expensive ventilation systems to accommodate smokers.
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