Oct. 13 1999
Washington, DC - While Philip Morris’ statements about the dangers of smoking are a step in the right direction, they hardly go far enough. Philip Morris has known for years that the scientific evidence proves conclusively that its products are lethal, but the company has chosen to engage in a systematic, concerted effort to deceive the American public in order to make smoking more attractive to children deciding whether to start and to adults debating whether to quit. Nowhere in its new statement on smoking does Philip Morris say that the company agrees with the overwhelming scientific consensus that shows that its products cause serious diseases like lung cancer and heart disease.
Philip Morris’ attorneys have carefully crafted its new statements on tobacco and health to avoid admitting that the company agrees with the scientific and medical conclusions that smoking kills. Still, given the extent of the company’s acknowledgements, the CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS finds it unconscionable that Philip Morris intends to continue the Marlboro advertising and marketing campaign that has resulted in Marlboro being the choice of more than 60 percent of teen and pre-teen smokers, both boys and girls. In fact, Marlboro is smoked by more children than all other brands of cigarettes combined.
The scientific facts on smoking haven’t changed in 30 years, but the political climate for Philip Morris has. The company’s reputation is in tatters, its stock price is falling, and juries across the country have been expressing their outrage at Philip Morris’ wrongdoing. Philip Morris had very little choice but to change its tune on the scientific evidence about the dangers of smoking.
Philip Morris is still running a series of television spots that purport to advocate that kids shouldn’t smoke, but the spots do not acknowledge that smoking can and does cause cancer, heart disease, and that more than 400,000 people die every year from smoking-related disease.
If Philip Morris is really serious about its intentions to prevent youth smoking, the company will drop the Marlboro Man campaign that has given it the bulk of youth smokers for years. In addition, the CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS urges Philip Morris to show that it really is serious about youth smoking prevention by dropping its opposition to FDA regulation of tobacco products.