He Said What? | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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He Said What?

May 12, 2011

Philip Morris International CEO Louis Camilleri made headlines at the PMI shareholders' meeting in New York on Wednesday, when he falsely claimed that 'it's not that hard to quit' smoking cigarettes.

It was a revealing glimpse of the real Philip Morris at an event usually orchestrated to present the world's largest private tobacco company in the best light even as its products and practices spread death and disease worldwide.

Corporate Accountability International released a report in connection with the shareholders' meeting that highlights the deadly impact of PMI's business, and the unscrupulous tactics the company uses to boost profits and aggressively expand into low- and middle-income countries.

'Philip Morris International Exposed: Alternative Annual Report,' outlines the tactics PMI uses to undermine effective tobacco control worldwide. These include:

  • Filing lawsuits challenging strong tobacco control laws Example: PMI used an obscure investment treaty between Switzerland and Uruguay to challenge Uruguay's strong tobacco-control laws, which include large, pictorial health warnings and a crackdown on misleading marketing that implies one brand is less risky than another.

  • Marketing that attracts youth Example: PMI's subsidiary in Argentina sponsored a summer concert series with bands popular among Argentine youth — with promotional materials that included online and point-of-sale ads.

  • Creating 'partnerships' with governments to undermine public health laws Example: As Colombia was adopting tobacco-control laws, PMI's subsidiary gave the government $200 million as part of a pact that includes investments in cultivating tobacco.

  • Using front groups Example: In Australia, PMI's subsidiary Philip Morris Australia and other tobacco companies are bankrolling a media campaign, supposedly by retailers, opposing the government's plan to require tobacco products to be sold in plain packages.

  • Creating so-called corporate social responsibility initiatives Example: PMI subsidiaries in Indonesia, Colombia and elsewhere have set up charitable organizations to help after natural disasters and fund education. The real purpose: buy political influence and defeat tobacco control policies.

While PMI shareholders celebrated $27 billion revenues in 2010, there was no mention of the nearly six million preventable deaths from tobacco use worldwide every year.