BY ANNA WHITE (ESSENTIAL ACTION, USA)
Morris Annual Meeting of Stockholders
Hello, my name is Anna White. I am representing Essential Action's Global Partnerships for Tobacco Control project. Essential Action is a corporate accountability group based in Washington, DC. Our Global Partnerships project links tobacco control groups in the U.S. and Canada with groups in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Central/Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet Union. Currently there are over 360 groups from more than 100 countries and 40 U.S. states involved, working across borders to monitor and counter the tobacco industry.
My comments today are in regard to the proposal to change Philip Morris' name to "Altria." As Philip Morris shareholders may or may not know, 2002 marks the 100th anniversary of Philip Morris. In the last 100 years, tobacco has killed 100 million people around the world. And if the tobacco industry is not reigned in, tobacco will kill a mind-boggling 1 billion people this century. By 2030 tobacco will kill 10 million people annually -- the equivalent of 70 [Boeing 747] planes full of passengers crashing each and every day of the year.
In light of these statistics, this is what people around the world are saying about Philip Morris changing its name:
From Mauritius: "The tobacco industry is a responsible industry
-- RESPONSIBLE indeed of 10,000 avoidable human deaths per day. Whatever
its name, the company will always be synonymous with death, destruction,
and disease, for the sake of profit."
From Nigeria: "Does a change of name bring back to life hundreds
of thousands of people maimed or killed in one hundred years of corporate
social irresponsibility?!! Philip Morris, Altria, "Death Angel"
or whatever, you still remained a loathed agent of disease and death!!!"
From Ukraine: "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."
[At this point Philip Morris CEO Geoffrey Bible interrupts and claims - incorrectly - that 2 minutes are up. Meanwhile the microphone is pulled away, as the video screen switches back to Bible. Speaker follows the microphone and contests the time limit. Bible grants time to finish question]
... My question is: if Philip Morris changes its name, will it also change its practices around the world [which are at the root of tobacco's global massacre], e.g. political influence, aggressive marketing tactics (like the Marlboro Man and free cigarettes), fighting smokefree legislation etc.?
RESPONSE: Bible adamantly denied that Philip Morris used a pregnant woman in a cigarette advertisement, calling the example "totally inaccurate" and "sheer propaganda" and adding, "and you know that!" -- thus implying that the example had been made up and was a lie (See for yourself ). Bible said he thought the whole issue was "a great pity." Furthermore, he accused us of refusing to "work with the tobacco industry" to come up with solutions. We can all take that as a very high compliment!
For more information about PM's use of a pregnant-looking women in an L & M advertisement: Konstantin Krasovsky <[email protected]>