Industry watch

The shenanigans of ‘Big Tobacco’

On 7 March 7 1962, the Royal College of Physicians of London published Smoking and Health, a landmark report linking smoking as a cause of lung cancer, heart disease, bronchitis, and other respiratory and pulmonary diseases. A veritable mountain of evidence about the health issues caused by smoking and secondhand smoke followed.

The response by the tobacco industry over the past 50 years has been to deny, undermine, negate the research, call for more research, fund bogus research, propose self-regulation and oppose every initiative that might reduce smoking.

As illustrated by the litigation leading to the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) in November 1998 and the associated discovery disclosures, the tobacco industry has a long history of misleading and deceptive conduct in the market and sale of its product.

“Emerging markets”

To replace the shrinking markets in Australia, Europe and the United States, ‘Big Tobacco’ is now targeting “emerging markets” in places like Indonesia, China, and Central and South America. Check out the documentary Sex, Lies and Cigarettes  for an eye-opener about ‘Big Tobacco’s’ shameful strategies as documented undercover at Tobacco’s 2010 convention in Indonesia.

That sordid history of deception continues

8 March 2012: According to the first US Surgeon General’s report on youth tobacco use since 1994, the tobacco industry marketing is fuelling teenage addiction. With many of America’s teens smoking cigarettes and using smokeless tobacco. The report concluded that the tobacco industry’s $10 billion annual marketing spend is aimed at young people to entice them to begin smoking, and continue their use of tobacco. 

Nothing new in Philip Morris rhetoric

In 1954, Philip Morris International promised to “stop business tomorrow” if it became apparent that cigarettes were harmful to health.

In 1997 PMI Chief Executive Geoffrey Bible when asked what he would do with his manufacturing plants if scientists proved that cigarettes were a cause of cancer, responded by saying he would “shut it down instantly.”

Internationally tobacco is responsible for the loss of over 7 million lives every year. It is a product that reliably kills up to two thirds of its consumers when used long term as intended.

On 2 January 2018 PMI placed full-page adverts in several UK newspapers claiming that the firm’s “New Year’s resolution” for 2018 is to “stop selling cigarettes in the UK.”

“Philip Morris is known for cigarettes. Every year, many smokers give them up. Now it’s our turn,” reads the advert.

“Our ambition is to stop selling cigarettes in the UK. It won’t be easy. But we are determined to turn our vision into reality.

There are 7.6 million adults in the UK who smoke. The best action they can take is to quit smoking,”

Our comment: No sales of PMI cigarettes have been harmed in the making of these statements.

Click here to view The Big Tobacco Story: A story of lies, fraud and deceit.