Thursday, May 12, 2011

Let’s Light Up

Philip Morris Company says with a bold face and in bold-face type that CIGARETTES ARE HARMFUL!
by Charlie Leck

Louis C. Camilleri is the CEO of Philip Morris International Incorporated. He smokes even though he knows it's harmful to his health. With a name like his, do you suppose he puffs on Camel Cigarettes – the unfiltered type? I’m being silly. Camels are manufactured by the R.J. Reynolds Company and he’d have to pay for those and likely couldn’t afford it. Marlboro, manufactured by his own company, he can get free.

“Whilst it is addictive,” Camilleri said, “it is not that hard to quit!” (Honest to God! He said, “whilst!”)

“We take our responsibility very seriously,” Camilleri told a gathering of stock holders, “and I don’t think we get enough recognition for the efforts we make to ensure that there is effective worldwide regulation of a product that is harmful and that is addictive.” (The emphasis is mine!) Keep this paragraph in mind because I am going to ask you to return to it later.

Now, I must point out here that Philip Morris International recently tried to get the nation of Uruguay to weaken its tobacco control laws. The cigarette manufacturer sued the national government, claiming that Uruguay’s law violated an international investment treaty. It’s done similar things in other countries and has also spread plenty of dough around as bribes for legislators to go easy on their restrictive laws. So much for ensuring “there is effective worldwide regulation of a product that is harmful and that is addictive.”

The CEO of this giant corporation that manufactures cancer sticks says he even quit himself for three months once. That was while he had a cold.

Now you probably think I’m making all of this up – that this is another one of my fictional blogs! Not on your life, buster! All this really happened. Those of you old enough will remember the testimony of the tobacco companies before Congress is 1994, each of whom declared under oath that “nicotine is not addictive.”

At a stock holders meeting last week, the company’s big-wigs found themselves in the presence of more anti-smoking proponents than investors who had bought in to make money. They couldn’t get much of their business done because they had to wrangle with all these protestors. Can you imagine? There were actually people there who thought there was something wrong with a company that openly admits that its product is dangerous, unhealthy, harmful, and addictive; yet the same company goes right on manufacturing the product and makes billions of dollars in profits.

I repeat myself: “Can you imagine!”

Philip Gorham, a stock analyst with Morningstar rang the bell of wisdom after the meeting when he pointed out that addictiveness is exactly why tobacco is such a profitable business. (Again, the emphasis is mine!)

In 2006, U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler ruled that the manufacturers of cigarettes had been hiding evidence about the addictiveness of nicotine. She also found that the companies “falsely denied that they can and do control the level of nicotine delivered in order to create and sustain addiction.”

At this most recent meeting of stock holders, Camilleri bemoaned all the regulations imposed on his company that keep it from making even larger profits and impede the clear right of people to choose to smoke if they wish. (Compare this with Camilleri’s comments in paragraph three above.)

I propose that all medical bills for the treatment of smokers with cancer be sent directly to any and all cigarette manufacturers who sell products in the United States.

In the last fiscal year, Philip Morris grew its profits by 14.5 percent.

One of the major gripes of the protesting groups at the shareholders’ meeting is that Philip Morris targets underage smokers in developing nations where there is little or no regulation of the product they manufacture.

Is someone pulling my leg?


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