Jul. 16 2001
Washington, DC — Would a responsible, reformed tobacco company tell foreign governments that dead smokers are a good thing for their budgets? Philip Morris is doing exactly that. The same Philip Morris that has spent millions of dollars on a public relations campaign to convince the American public that it is now a responsible company is also telling the government of the Czech Republic that smoking is good for the government's finances, because of savings from early deaths caused by smoking, according to a November 28, 2000, report produced for Philip Morris and exposed today in The Wall Street Journal. A Czech public health leader, Eva Kralikova, pointed out the absurdity of their report when she said, "Following that logic [of the report], the best recommendation to government would be to kill all people on the day of their retirement."
This report is powerful evidence that the kinder, gentler Philip Morris depicted in the company's U.S. ads is just a wolf in sheep's clothing. It's a wolf that has the gall to tell a government that the early deaths that result from their products are a good thing. It is shocking to read a report that touts "public finance saved … from reduced health-care costs, savings on pensions and housing costs for the elderly — all related to the early mortality of smokers." Philip Morris' cost-benefit analysis of the consequences of smoking represents not only bad economics, but also a callous disregard for life.
This report is also a much-needed warning to policy makers at all levels in the United States and around the world that Philip Morris has not changed and cannot be trusted when it says it wants to play a constructive role in developing laws and treaties to regulate tobacco products. The same Philip Morris that told the Czech government that smokers dying early is a good thing is also asking Congress to pass its version of Food and Drug Administration regulation of tobacco, and it has urged the World Health Organization to take its advice in negotiating the proposed international tobacco treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. It is the same Philip Morris that has been invited by the Bush Administration to negotiate a settlement to the federal tobacco lawsuit. A company that goes out of its way to rationalize as a good thing the fact that its products kill people does not deserve such a seat at the table.
Philip Morris' only interest is its own bottom line, not the protection of our children or the public health, and this report shows the lengths to which it is willing to go to get its way when it thinks no one is watching.
See Philip Morris' Czech Report for more information.