Oct. 13 2000
Washington, DC — In testimony today before the World Health Organization, Philip Morris demonstrated extraordinary cynicism in denying any responsibility for the death and disease that it finally has admitted results from smoking its cigarettes. David Davies, Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Philip Morris Europe, today specifically admitted that smoking is addictive and causes lung cancer, emphysema, cardiovascular disease and other serious diseases. Yet he stated that Philip Morris is proud of its cigarette products and asserted that "we do not have legal responsibility for those who claim they have been injured. We should not be responsible for their choices."
Contrary to Philip Morris' claim that "the message of the public health community is our message," there are fundamental differences between the type of regulation that we support and the type of regulation that Philip Morris supports. Philip Morris' idea of regulation is a mechanism for putting the government's stamp of approval on a new generation of tobacco products it plans to market, with the goal of keeping people smoking by providing an alternative to quitting. The public health community's goal is effective action that reduces the number of people who smoke and the death and disease resulting from tobacco use.
It should be recognized that Philip Morris' acknowledgement that its products are addictive and cause disease is not a result of the sudden discovery of scientific evidence. Rather, this admission continues Philip Morris' pattern of responding to serious threats of legal sanction or governmental regulation, such as the WHO's proposed Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, by making grand announcements that turn out to be empty public relations gestures.
Unfortunately, Philip Morris continues to oppose those measures that have proven most effective at reducing tobacco use, including excise tax increases, advertising restrictions, and comprehensive product regulation.
Philip Morris' statement that it remains proud of its cigarette products while admitting that they are addictive and cause fatal disease represents one of the most callous expressions of disregard for health ever made by a corporation. No responsible corporate citizen would be proud of manufacturing a product that kills one-third of the people who use it.