Philip Morris is Changing Its Name,… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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Philip Morris is Changing Its Name, But Not Its Harmful Practices That Addict Kids

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
January 27, 2003

Washington, DC - By changing the name of its parent company to The Altria Group Inc., Philip Morris is engaging in a classic public relations gesture – create the illusion of change while avoiding real change in its harmful business practices. Philip Morris' name change won't prevent a single child from starting to smoke or save a single life because the company continues to engage in harmful marketing practices that addict children and it continues to aggressively fight public health policies to reduce the tremendous harm caused by its tobacco products. A name change cannot erase the fact that more children smoke Philip Morris' Marlboro cigarettes than all other brands combined, or that Philip Morris has been the number one corporate donor of federal political contributions over the past decade in its efforts to defeat legislation that would reduce the terrible toll of tobacco.

As Philip Morris/Altria seeks to portray itself as a responsible company, it is still the world's largest tobacco company, it is spending more than ever before to market its tobacco products, and it remains the major cause of the problem of tobacco use, especially among kids. More kids – 55.2 percent of all smokers aged 12 to 17 – smoke Philip Morris's Marlboro than all other brands combined, according to the 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. In addition, Philip Morris continues to oppose effective measures at all levels of government to reduce tobacco use. Philip Morris attacked Florida's effective tobacco prevention program, funded front groups that opposed cigarette tax increases and secondhand smoke protections, and ran a so-called 'youth tobacco prevention' program that was found to actually increase the likelihood that youth would smoke.

If Philip Morris is serious about being a responsible company, it will end its marketing practices that addict kids in the United States and around the world, stop opposing effective measures to reduce tobacco use, and join the public health community in supporting legislation before Congress to grant the FDA real, effective authority over tobacco products. Instead, Philip Morris continues to seek to buy political influence and conduct misleading public relations campaigns.