Nov. 15 2001
Washington, DC — Philip Morris is changing its name because it is unwilling to change its harmful business practices and it has been unsuccessful at changing its reputation despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars trying to do so. This is a desperate and cynical act by a company that realizes its massive public relations campaign to convince the public that it has changed has been a total failure. No PR campaign and no name change can hide the fact that Philip Morris continues to market a deadly and addictive product to our children and seeks at every turn to block public health measures aimed at reducing the toll of tobacco. Given its long history of wrongdoing, perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that Philip Morris would join the ranks of those who seek to change their identity and run from their past.
Philip Morris hopes that its new name sounds socially responsible. But changing its name won't change the fact that more kids today smoke Philip Morris' Marlboro brand than all other brands combined and Philip Morris continues to make and market a product that kills more than 400,000 Americans every year. It won't change the fact that Philip Morris continues to oppose real regulation of tobacco products by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. And it won't change the fact that just a few months ago Philip Morris issued a report in the Czech Republic arguing that early smoking deaths had "positive effects" because they reduce how much the government has to spend on benefits for the elderly.
If Philip Morris' history is any guide, this will be the latest in a long line of empty public relations gestures. Philip Morris' only interest continues to be its bottom line, not the protection of our children or the public health. It is business as usual. Nothing has changed but the name.