STATEMENT OF LAURENT HUBER (ACTION ON SMOKING AND HEALTH, USA)
Morris Annual Meeting of Stockholders
My name is Laurent Huber and I am speaking on behalf of my colleague, Inoussa Saouna, president of SOS Tabagisme Niger.
In Niger, a decree was enacted in 1992 stating that: "the adverting of tobacco products and cigarettes is prohibited in all media communications (radio, television, written press), and that the advertisement of tobacco is prohibited through the use of billboards and public postings. (DECREE: n 042/MCT/SEC/SEC/CC of October 06, 1992).
Philip Morris claims that they respect worldwide tobacco advertising laws. However, two of Philip Morris' tobacco products, Marlboro and Bond Street, are advertised in Niger through posters, billboards and a variety of other public displays.
For this reason, on February 20, 2002, SOS Tabagisme Niger filed a suit against SODENI, the commercial society that sells and promotes Philip Morris' tobacco products in Niger for ignoring the above mentioned decree. Though the law is very clear in this case, Saouna's lawyer is up against 12 industry lawyers.
Philip Morris pledged three years ago to follow the same rules abroad that it does in the United States, which in addition to respecting the law, includes not handing out free cigarettes to anyone, much less to minors. Unfortunately, this is another marketing practice that continues to be used to promote Philip Morris' tobacco products in Niger.
My colleague, Mr Saouna, would like to know whether or not Philip Morris,
or Altria as it will now become, can publicly commit (NOW) - in front
of its shareholders - to the following:
RESPONSE: Predictably, Bible denied that the company has broken any laws or distributed free cigarettes to minors. He called Laurent's statement "innacurate" and "absurb" and claimed that the company only samples in "adult areas" and checks people's ages. He noted that it is a "competitive industry," and that "we must work together to solve the issue of smoking." He cited the company's voluntary [weak!] "international marketing code" and interest in "working with governments."
For more information on
Philip Morris' practices in Niger see: