A cache of emails and documents delivered to the Sydney Morning Herald reveal that PM is funding the Civic Group, a public relations firm, to coordinate a new front group, the Alliance of Australian Retailers, to stop the plain packaging rule. So far PM has spent AU $5.4 million on the previously-secret “third party ally” campaign, and plans to spend $3.97 million more. The front group is trying to create the appearance that owners of small shops, service stations and “milk bars” — small stores where people pick up items like milk and newspapers — oppose the law on grounds that it will “cause delays” and “undermine convenience.”

It’s handy for politicians to remember this sort of thing the next time there’s a “grassroots” backlash against a tobacco prevention policy.

Posted via email from Rob Cottingham’s posterous