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Health Groups Urge State Legislatures Group To Turn Down Philip Morris Grant

January 29, 2005

Washington, DC — Five of the nation's leading public health organizations have written to the leadership of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) to urge the organization to turn down a proposed $1.1 million grant from Philip Morris, the nation's largest tobacco company. NCSL's executive committee, which consists of state legislators from across the country, is expected to decide whether to accept the grant when it meets in Biloxi, Mississippi, January 28-29.

The five organizations sending the letter are the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

The letter argues that NCSL's acceptance of the Philip Morris grant would further Philip Morris' efforts to defeat real legislative solutions to reduce tobacco use and undermine NCSL's mission of providing state legislators with independent, objective information on public policy issues, including how to reduce tobacco use.

'Through grants such as this, Philip Morris seeks to improve its negative image, gain legitimacy through association with reputable allies, and create the illusion that Philip Morris is part of the solution to the tobacco problem when in fact it remains a major cause of the problem and an aggressive opponent of effective legislative solutions,' the letter states.

The letter points out that, while Philip Morris claims to be a responsible company, more kids in the U.S. – 49.2 percent of smokers aged 12-17 – smoke the company's Marlboro cigarettes than nearly all other brands combined. It also points out that Philip Morris continues to fight proven measures to reduce smoking, such as cigarette tax increases and smoke-free workplace policies.