Essential Action
Global Partnerships for Tobacco Control
home | take action! | letter campaigns | world tour | photos

Report on 2002 Philip Morris
Annual Meeting of Stockholders


On April 25, 24 GPTC participants attended the 2002 Philip Morris shareholders meeting. Our goal was to represent the voices of people around the world and to demand real change -- change that saves peoples' lives, rather than meaningless cosmetic name changes. We wanted the company to know that whatever its name, Philip Morris or Altria, we will be monitoring its practices worldwide and holding it accountable.

Judging from CEO Geoffrey Bible's strong reactions to our statements, the company is highly vulnerable to public exposure of its misdeeds around the world. So keep your ears and eyes open and don't let the company get away with anything!

READ STATEMENTS MADE BY GPTC PARTICIPANTS

Article in Richmond Times - Dispatch

We would like to take this opportunity to extend a BIG THANK YOU to Infact, a veteran organizer of PM shareholder meeting demonstrations, for covering housing, food, training, and proxies for GPTC folks. Infact is the regional coordinator for the Network for Accountability of Tobacco Transnationals (NATT). For more information about Infact and NATT, see http://www.infact.org


PHILIP MORRIS
ANNUAL MEETING OF STOCKHOLDERS
Thursday, April 25, 2002


On the morning of Philip Morris' Annual Meeting of Stockholders, the weather was appropriately cold, wet, and gloomy. This year marked the company's 100th anniversary. In the last century, tobacco killed 100 million people worldwide, a deadly legacy that Philip Morris seems intent on expanding exponentially.

For a full transcript of the remarks by Chairman and CEO Geoffrey C. Bible and Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Louis C. Camilleri at the meeting go to:
http://www.philipmorris.com/docs/investor_rel/2002_AnnualReports/remarks.pdf

"ALTRIA: A NEW NAME FOR GLOBAL LEADERSHIP"
That's what a display on Philip Morris' proposed new name proudly proclaimed. The text read:
"Altria is derived from the Latin "altus," meaning "high," and conveys our company's constant desire to reach even higher -- a philosophy that has guided our decisions. The name Altria reflects our commitment to strive for peak performance and to embrace innovation, growth, and new [challenges]." Perhaps Altria IS a good name for a company committed to spreading higher rates of lung cancer, emphysema, and death around the world?

HUMAN TOLL IS "ALMOST INCOMPREHENSIBLE" SAY PHILIP MORRIS CEO
What, a confession from the CEO of the world's largest "Merchant of Death"?! Think again. A new addition to this year's pre-stockholder meeting coffee hour was a large display on Philip Morris' response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. A wheelbarrow filled with bricks and topped off with a hardhat stood before a black and white image of the destruction of the World Trade Center. A television monitor replayed scenes of PM employees helping out at Ground Zero and delivering free water and Kraft food products; Geoffrey Bible announcing that the company would donate $10 million to the relief efforts; and a Red Cross employee praising PM's efforts. Also included on the display was the quote from Bible's remarks to PM employees (9/18):

"This is a disaster of historic proportion. The toll in human terms is almost incomprehensible. But even in the darkest times, the selflessness of our employeers is truly inspirational...We will grieve for those who are lost, we will weep with those who are left behind, and we will never forget."

Of course, Bible failed to mention that by 2030 the tobacco industry itself will be responsible for the deaths of 10 million people annually -- the equivalent of 70 [Boeing 747] planes full of passengers crashing each and every day. Apparently the company's selfless acts stop when the "disasters of historic proportion" become profitable. For Bible's full speech see: http://www.philipmorris.com/philanthropy/human_assist/GCBRemarks.asp

"DEMOCRACY IS NOT A SPECTATOR SPORT"
...so a Philip Morris brochure for PHILPAC, its political action committee, proclaims. "PHILPAC is our vehicle to support the election of candidates who understand and support our businesses. We are competing with more than 3,400 other federally registered PACS representing thousands of companies, trade associations and labor unions, all of whom are trying to get their candidates elected as well." PHILPAC is "cost-effective," says the brochure, because every dollar contributed "goes directly to the campaigns of candidates who understand and support the Philip Morris companies." Democracy, according to Philip Morris, means government "of, by, and for corporations."

AS THE MARLBORO MAN CONTINUES TO "LASSO" NEW SMOKERS...
...Philip Morris is expanding its bogus "Youth Smoking Prevention" programs around the world. This year's display featured examples from: Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Belarus, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Guatemala, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, Pan-Europe, Philippines, Portugal, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey.
       A Russian PM employee, who worked in PM's corporate affairs office in Russia for 7 years stood by to answer questions. We grilled him on the double standard between what PM says and does. He denied that the company gives out free cigarettes. He said that the company requires employees to sign documents saying that they will not engage in practices like this, and fires any that do. He added that PM has a worldwide company policy on the matter. All companies with which it does business must abide by the policy or risk paying fines of up to $20,000, as written into their contracts. He claimed that the company checks ID's at every concert and promotional event.
       Furthermore, he said, the company no longer advertises on radio, television, and print media with a readership of less that 70% adults, and that it no longer produces any branded items, other than smoking-related paraphanelia, e.g. ashtrays, lighters. Anything else, he said, is "old" or "fake." We handed him a copy of last year's New York Time's article on PM's targeting of kids worldwide that clearly reports to the contrary.

CAMILLERI GIVES THE BUSINESS REPORT
Louis Camilleri, who will replace Geoffrey Bible as CEO later this year, boasted of the company's continued global expansion. He cited, in particular, the geographic expansion of Virginia Slims (cigarette brand marketed to woman). Sales of the brand have doubled in Russia. Female emancipation through cigarette smoking? And in the last year, sales of the company's L & M brand grew 18% worldwide. Through acquisition, joint ventures, and new licensing agreements the the company's global cigarette business is strong, said Camilleri. He also mentioned the company's growing "health and wealthness" line of nutritional, sugarfree, reduced fat products, e.g. Boca Burgers and Balance Bars. Of course we all know what Philip Morris should do if it really wants to promote "health and wealthness"!

BLAMING THE MARLBORO MAN WOULD BE "NAIVE"
During the Question & Answer period, Eva Kralikova, well known for her role in exposing Philip Morris' infamous "Czech" report last year, highlighted the company's double standard between its practices in the U.S. and abroad. She called on the company to change more than just its name. In particular, she challenged Philip Morris to get rid of the Marlboro Man. Bible called Kralikova "naive" to think that the Marlboro Man is to blame for youth lighting up around the world. It's all parents' fault, he said. They need to stop leaving their cigarettes where kids can find them. As always, the company that claims to be "responsible," refuses to take any responsibility. Read full statement

GIVE OUT FREE CIGARETTES TO MINORS? NOT US!
In Niger, Inoussa Saouna SOS Tabagisme has done an admirable job of monitoring the tobacco industry's misdeeds, at considerable personal risk. He tipped off a New York Times reporter re: how PM targets tens of thousands of young people in his country through concerts and free cigarette distribution. As a result, he was fired from his job at a radio station (which PM paid to promote the concert). Most recently, he has taken the five tobacco companies in his country to court for violating Niger's tobacco advertising ban. One of them, SODENI, markets and sells Philip Morris brands in Niger. SOS-Tabagisme's single lawyer is up against 12 industry lawyers! Inoussa reports that he has received menacing telephone calls and members of his organization have been offered bribes to oust him from the organization (they smartly declined!). Laurent Huber of Action on Smoking and Health spoke on SOS Tabagisme's behalf and demanded that Philip Morris abide by laws abroad and stop free cigarette distribution. Predictably, Geoffrey Bible called Laurent's statement "inaccurate" and "absurd." He claimed that the company only gives out samples in "adult areas" where age is checked. Hmmm, so how does he explain that kids as young as 10 were offered Bond Street cigarettes in Niger? Read full statement

"PREGNANT WOMAN" EXAMPLE DRAWS SHARP REBUKE FROM BIBLE
In comments to Bible and shareholders, GPTC Coordinator Anna White read three statements from around the world regarding Philip Morris' name change. The third, sent in by Lisa Houston (a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Ukraine) read: "Philip Morris recently made headlines in the Ukraine after releasing a billboard featuring a pregnant woman. Philip Morris is probably hoping that by hiding behind a new name it can gloss over such crass advertising tactics." Bible immediately interrupted and tried to cut off the rest of the statement. The microphone was pulled away from Anna, as the video screen switched back to Bible. Anna followed the microphone and contested the time limit. After finishing her question, Bible categorically denied that the company used a pregnant woman in a tobacco advertisement in the Ukraine. Furthermore, he insinuated that Anna made up the example and was a liar. As Konstantin Krasovsky responds: "Certainly we can not prove that the model on the L&M ad was really pregnant. However everyone who looked at the ad had that strong impression, stressed by the model's pose and the position of partner's hand on her belly. And if the model is not pregnant why was the ad so quickly removed? And why did Philip Morris office in Ukraine refuse to comment on the removal to all journalists who tried to get the comments?" Read full statement

BIBLE CLAIMS THAT SMOKING = DEMOCRACY
Mark Breaux of Smoke Free Maryland spoke on behalf of Cornel Radu of Aer Pur (Romania). At the close of his remarks, he cited the problems that Romania and other Eastern European countries have faced since the "fall of the Berlin Wall" and asked how Philip Morris plans to reduce the burden of tobacco-related disease in the region. Geoffrey Bible responded by saying that in a democratic society, adults are free to decide to smoke. But as Cornel points out, he has found in no dictionary the definition of "democracy" being "promotion of tobacco addiction purely for profit." Romanians, he notes, smoked before and after the end of communism -- the only thing that has changed is the aggressive marketing of cigarettes by tobacco multinationals. PM sales in the region were up 14.3% last year, and in early September 2001, Philip Morris opened up a new plant in Romania. Democracy or corporate greed, you be the judge! Read full statement

LONG STANDING OVATION FOR THE LEADER OF THE WORLD'S DEADLIEST COMPANY
Louis Camilleri praised Geoffrey Bible for being the "finest CEO in the world" and lauded his "legacy, tenacity, and will to succeed in the unwavering pursuit" of the company's longterm financial goals -- noting that under Bible's leadership, the company's revenues went up 50%. Bible's "outstanding initiative and charisma motivates us all" said Camilleri, adding that Bible is "inspired with brain and heart." The standing ovation that followed literally continued for several minutes. Apparently overseeing the massacre of millions can boost your popularity, that is, if you're the CEO of a profitable multinational corporation.

STAREHOLDER: NEW NAME WON'T MAKE ANTI-TOBACCO FOLKS GO AWAY
Perhaps one of the most damaging statements came from an actual stockholder who said that
Philip Morris is first and foremost a tobacco company, and that he is proud to have helped build the company to where it is today. For what reason would Philip Morris want to change its name? "Changing the company's name to "Altria" won't make the anti-tobacco folks go away," he said, and furthermore, "the name "Altria" doesn't mean anything."

PHILIP MORRIS STOCKHOLDERS VOTE FOR "ALTRIA" & AGAINST PUBLIC HEALTH
The vast majority of stockholders voted according to the company's recommendations:
* Change company's name to Altria Group, Inc - 95.1% VOTED FOR
* Stockholder Proposal 1 - Inserts Disclosing Personal and Social Effects Related to Using our Company's Tobacco Products - 94.8% VOTED AGAINST
* Stockholder Proposal 2 - Environmental Tobacco Smoke (compel company to warn people of the dangers of secondhand smoke) - 94.8% VOTED AGAINST
* Stockholder Proposal 3 - Philip Morris Companies Inc./Global Human Rights Standards (compel the company to abide by International Labor Organization standards re: child labor, sweatshops, denial of labor organizations) - 94.6% VOTED AGAINST
For the full text of the stockholder proposals go to:

http://www.philipmorris.com/investors/proxy_statement/proxy_htm.htm
(scroll down to end)

OUTSIDE: STOCKHOLDERS GREETED BY GPTC & INFACT DEMONSTRATORS
Representatives of three statewide youth empowerment programs [Target Market (MN), Fighting Against Corporate Tobacco (WI), and (WV)] joined Infact demonstrators in "greeting" shareholders as they arrived at the meeting. GPTC groups carried signs with examples of PM's misdeeds around the world. Target Market teens also carried hardhitting posters, e.g. a photo of serial killer Charles Manson with a nametag "Hello my name is Wally Sunshine" and the message: "Sorry, Philip Morris, but changing your company's name to Altria won't help change your image either." Stockholders were not at all pleased to be reminded that their increased wealth comes at the expense of millions of lives around the world! See: Photos of some of our signs , A list of chants used
For copies of video footage contact: Corey Spoden <[email protected]>

IN THE BELLY OF THE CORPORATE BEAST
Eva Kralikova (Czech Republic) had these comments about the meeting: "It was not a meeting. It was a performance of power. It reminded me of the communist era. At the entrance there was so much security and restrictions. You could not bring in a camera or any luggage. They looked into my papers and confiscated all extra copies. Everything was perfectly timed and controlled, even the microphone, which I was not allowed to hold. It was a pure demonstration of power."

CONTENTS OF PM "LUNCHBOXES" GIVEN TO SHAREHOLDERS
Chips Ahoy cookes, Oreos, Milka bar, Planters roasted cashews, Balance Bar, Toblerone, Oscar Meyer bacon bits, Terry's Chocolate raspberry, Miller beer bottle opener, Altoids mints, Kraft Caesar Italian dressing, Lifesaver candies, Kraft Crystal Lite, Gevalia Tea, Maxwell House coffee, Gevalia Kaffe.

LIST OF BROCHURES THAT WE PICKED UP:

THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO PARTICIPATED!

  • Action on Smoking and Health (DC): Laurent Huber
  • Charles University of Prague (Czech Republic): Eva Kralikova
  • Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (DC): Judy Wilkenfeld
  • Essential Action (DC): Anna White
  • FACT (Fighting Against Corporate Tobacco) (WI): Debbie Vorass, Beth McHone, Rick Shumaker, Brianna Stuessey, Chelsey Tubbs, Chad Snyder, Phil Castillo, Stephanie Thornton
  • Smoke Free Maryland (MD): Mark Breaux
  • Target Market (MN): Corey Spoden, Jeannette Cleland, Hannah Severtson, Rachael Moeding, Nate Glynn
  • West Virginia Youth Empowerment Program: Sheila Ridler, Christine Kile-Eye, 3 teens
  • Arlyn Elizee (DC) - independent consultant, formerly with the Latino
    Council on Alcohol and Tobacco

Report on last year's meeting


Essential Action
Global Partnerships for Tobacco Control

P.O. Box 19405 ~ Washington, DC 20036
Tel: +1 202-387-8030 ~ Fax: +1 202-234-5176
Email: [email protected]
www.essentialaction.org/tobacco