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Really Philip Morris? You don’t market to kids?

May 14, 2013

At last week’s annual meeting of Philip Morris International shareholders in New York City, CEO Louis Camilleri answered a question from a youth tobacco control advocate by denying that the company markets to kids, saying “That’s just not true. It’s a fable.”

Sorry Mr. Camilleri, we can’t keep quiet on this one. Here are just a few recent examples illustrating how Philip Morris does target youth around the world with its deadly products:

  • Philip Morris has sponsored concerts in Indonesia and the Philippines under the names of its cigarette brands. Such sponsorships are banned in many countries because they are an effective way of promoting cigarettes to kids. Setting a positive example, U.S. singing star Alicia Keyes demanded that tobacco sponsorship of her 2008 Jakarta concert be withdrawn.
  • In Senegal, Philip Morris in 2011 cut the price of its best-selling Marlboro cigarettes by 40 percent, a step sure to increase smoking among price-sensitive youth.

Unfortunately, this so-called “fable” doesn’t have a storybook ending. Every day, 80,000-100,000 young people around the world become addicted to tobacco. If current trends continue, 250 million of today’s children will die from tobacco-related diseases. While Philip Morris says it doesn’t market to kids, actions speak louder than words.

Photo courtesy of Nicole Sutton, Hawaii Real