Jul. 26 2001
Washington, DC — Philip Morris' apology for issuing a report in the Czech Republic touting the "positive effects" of early smoking deaths can only be viewed as a cynical act of damage control unless the company also supports real change to reduce the deadly toll of tobacco. Without action to back up its words, one has to question what Philip Morris really regrets: the report's callous conclusions or the damage done to Philip Morris' efforts to portray itself as a reformed, responsible company.
Philip Morris' report, which was intended to head off new tobacco control policies in the Czech Republic, is far from an isolated incident. As reported in The Wall Street Journal today, Philip Morris was preparing similar studies in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia. These studies show the lengths to which Philip Morris is willing to go to block effective government action to reduce tobacco use. In the United States, these efforts include Philip Morris' feel-good corporate image advertising, in which the company has spent much more to tell the American people about its charitable contributions than it has actually given to charity, and its support for ineffective legislation to grant the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authority over tobacco products.
We don't need any more empty apologies or public relations gestures. If Philip Morris is serious, it should support effective policies that can bring about a real reduction in the death and disease caused by its products.