THE BELLY OF THE BEAST
Youth display death shrouds that they wore inside the 2005 Altria
the 2005 Altria shareholders meeting, tobacco control advocates
from Indonesia, India, and Nigeria -- part of a group of nearly
30 youth and adults who attended together -- drew attention to
the company's promotion of death around the world.
Tjandra Yoga Aditama of the Indonesian Smoking Control Foundation
addressed the public health impact of Philip Morris's take over
of Sampoerna, one of the biggest kretek companies in Indonesia.
Gupta, a 16-year-old high school student involved with HRIDAY-SHAN
(India), questioned CEO Louis Camilleri about blatant Marlboro
product placement in recent Bollywood movies. Read
Orogun of Journalists Action on Tobacco & Health (Nigeria)
challenged the CEO over the company's recent entry into the
Nigerian market. Read statement
White of Essential Action then presented the CEO with a "Happy
50th Deathday" card, left blank inside to represent
all the company's addicted customers who are not alive anymore
to "celebrate" the occasion. Read
the end of the meeting, as Louis Camilleri started to list all
the wonderful "socially responsible" things that the
company does around the world, e.g. tsunami relief, support of
domestic violence victims, food for the hungry, etc, about two
dozen youth and adults covered themselves in black death shrouds
bearing skull images and large "Happy 50th Deathday"
stickers, and stood up. The CEO interrupted his monologue to order
everyone to sit down and stop blocking others' view. Two of the
people then moved to the aisle and stood facing the audience through
the remainder of the meeting, a silent testimony to what the company
is really about. At the meeting's conclusion, youth distributed
"Happy 50th Deathday" cards to the company's Board of
Directors. Some accepted them. Others did not.