Philip Morris Hasn't Changed – As… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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Philip Morris Hasn't Changed – As Company Adopts New Name, It Blames Parents Rather than Its Own Advertising for Youth Smoking

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
April 25, 2002

Washington, DC — Last year in the Czech Republic, Philip Morris issued a report arguing that early smoking deaths had 'positive effects' because they reduce government spending on benefits for the elderly. Today, at the company's annual meeting in Richmond, outgoing Philip Morris Chairman and CEO Geoffrey Bible blamed parents, rather than his company's aggressive marketing, for the problem of youth smoking. Philip Morris' latest statement shows a cynical disregard for the facts and is deeply offensive to parents across America. While Philip Morris may have changed its corporate name to Altria today, it hasn't changed its deadly practices and refuses to accept responsibility for the fact that more kids smoke its Marlboro cigarettes than all other brands combined. Nothing has changed but the name.

Asked at the annual meeting if Philip Morris would get rid of the Marlboro Man to show that it is serious about being a responsible company, Bible said it was 'simply naïve' to think that eliminating the Marlboro Man would reduce youth smoking. Bible went on to argue that most youth smokers don't buy cigarettes and that nine out of ten of them get cigarettes from loose packs left around by adults. Surveys of youth smokers tell a different story. According to the 2000 National Youth Tobacco Survey conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 58.2 percent of 9th to 12th graders who had smoked in the past 30 days reported that they usually purchased their cigarettes – 33.1 percent usually bought their cigarettes from a story or vending machine, while 25.1 percent had somebody else buy cigarettes for them. Just 2.9 percent reported taking them from a store or family member. Also, if it were true that most kids get their cigarettes from careless adults, then why do 54.8 percent of youth smokers smoke Marlboro compared to just 36 percent of adults 26 and older?

Philip Morris' actions today show once again that, while claiming to be a changed company, it is in fact willing to do and say almost anything to block real change that would reduce the addiction, disease and death caused by its products.