WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Tobacco giant Philip Morris International (PMI) placed advertisements in major United Kingdom newspapers earlier this week, claiming it wants a smoke-free future.
- The ad seems like a typical New Year’s resolution: “We’re trying to give up cigarettes.”
- But coming from a cigarette manufacturer, it sounded both hypocritical and doubtful.
Philip Morris International operates in most countries excluding the U.S. Its new advertising campaign attempts to divert attention from the reality that the tobacco company promotes nicotine use.
“Our ambition is to stop selling cigarettes in the UK,” part of the ad says. “No cigarette company has done anything like this before. You might wonder if we really mean it. We do.”
However, PMI did not set a deadline on when it’s actually giving up cigarettes. If it’s true to its words, then it should actively support the policies endorsed by the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Policies include comprehensive smoke-free laws, significant tobacco tax increases, tobacco advertising bans, and graphic health warnings on cigarette packs. These policies should be implemented by all tobacco companies.
PMI however, opposes these policies. Reuters made an investigative report last year and discovered a massive, secret PMI campaign aimed at “bringing to heel the world’s tobacco control treaty.” PMI has filed expensive lawsuits around the world to challenge the tobacco control laws.
Philip Morris brags that Marlboro is “the number one global cigarette brand.” It tries to promote its cigarettes to make it more appealing to the kids by creating flavored cigarettes. It markets close to elementary schools and sponsors race cars and concerts. That’s why its “smoke-free future” campaign is too good to be true.
In September, Philip Morris created its Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, an independent, non-profit organization founded to support world efforts to lower health effects and deaths from smoking. But instead of advancing public health, tobacco companies like PMI have used this type of research to divert attention from real solutions and their own harmful actions.
Tobacco companies even promoted light and low-tar cigarettes claiming that they are safer products but turned out to be no safer at all.
PMI’s latest ads should not be believed until it stops manufacturing cigarettes. Its “commitment” to a smoke-free future should be seen as another public relations campaign and not a serious attempt to minimize the health hazards caused by cigarettes.