Philip Morris: Saviour of the World
The two-faced André Calantzopoulos, CEO of Philip Morris International (PMI), is at it again. He’s written an open letter to the ‘global leadership community’ (sic), whatever that is, in which he presents himself and the repulsive company he heads as the saviour of the world.
It’s not difficult, however, to see through the lies, distortions and false emotional appeals it contains.
In my usual fashion I’ll quote from it and add my comments.
As the CEO of Philip Morris International, I’m often asked why we do not stop selling cigarettes. Perhaps this is the wrong question. The right question might be: ‘When will people stop buying cigarettes?’
This misleadingly puts the blame for people continuing to buy and smoke cigarettes onto PMI’s customers. But they will stop buying cigarettes when PMI stops selling them – one can’t buy what isn’t on sale!
…consumer demand for cigarettes remains…worldwide, there are more than one billion people who smoke cigarettes…These people are your constituents, your neighbors and, perhaps, your friends and family. We have to look at alternative solutions for each and every one of these individuals.
The demand exists because of nicotine addiction, caused by cigarettes. There are indeed more than one billion smokers, worldwide – that’s the problem! And PMI is contributing to it by persisting in selling cigarettes. Now note the emotional appeal: these people are your constituents, neighbours, friends and family. In other words, if the global leadership community doesn’t listen to the weasel words of PMI, it will be their fault if your friends and family die! And note how the responsibility, for the sake of ‘every one of these individuals’ is craftily diverted into an exhortation to us all: ‘We have to look for alternative solutions’ – conveniently ignoring the fact that the only solution needed is for PMI and others in the Big Tobacco cartel to stop selling cigarettes.
Having prepared the groundwork, before coming to his main point, he lays it on thick with clichés and more emotional appeals:
[PMI is] committed to creating a smoke-free future. It’s a transformative vision, one that will change society: A future that does not include cigarettes. And we want to get there as quickly as possible…it’s our belief that [the] history [of tobacco companies lying] should not be used to deny adult smokers…the ability to make more informed choices.
Mr Calantzopuolos stands before us with downcast eyes as he admits tobacco companies have lied in the past – but now you can trust him because he’s a reformed character. Oh yes.
In an ideal world, all smokers should quit tobacco and nicotine consumption completely. This is the lowest-risk scenario compared with cigarette smoking.
This is misleading. Quitting completely it isn’t the lowest risk; it’s no risk.
Now we come to the point, which he makes twice:
We have invested more than $4.5 billion in research and development to provide adult smokers with better options…[this] is robust science. We are harnessing recent breakthroughs…to develop smoke-free alternatives…that are much less harmful than continued smoking…innovative smoke-free alternatives to cigarettes are likely to be less harmful than continued smoking.
Then he goes on the attack against his critics:
Those who are suspicious of our intentions, who block progress without taking time to understand the science and the size of the public health opportunity, do smokers a great disservice…these detractors have become disablers of public health solutions. They are blocking change, and many smokers are being denied these alternatives.
It’s the detractors and disablers who are to blame for the harms smokers suffer, by their blocking and denying!
And now Mr André ‘Knight-in-shining-armour’ Calantzopoulos tries to align himself with ‘other issues of global importance: climate change, gender equality, obesity, hunger and education’.
This is elaborated in a link mentioning the World Economic Forum at Davos, with the backdrop of snowy mountains suggestive of a healthy outdoor life:
Here we can see PMI’s lies blatantly displayed:
And even though people know in general that certain habits and behaviors are bad for their health, they might carry on regardless. And as long as consumers don’t have a desire to abstain from using risky products or fundamentally change their behaviors, such lifestyle choices will remain major public health challenges for authorities.
Smoking is not a habit or behaviour which happens to be bad for health: it’s drug (nicotine) addiction. Never mind – it’s convenient for PMI to talk about ‘consumers [who] don’t have a desire to abstain form using risky products or…change their behaviours [or]…lifestyle choices…’
Let’s be clear about this. The ‘consumers’ are smokers who find themselves unable to quit because they are addicted to the nicotine in PMI’s (and other makers’) cigarettes. Cigarettes are not ‘risky products’ – they are addictive drug-delivery devices. And quitting smoking is not just a matter of smokers having ‘a desire to abstain’ or being willing to ‘change their behaviours’. This is a duplicitous attempt to let PMI off the hook – blame the smokers themselves!
Never mind that smokers continue to smoke because of their nicotine addiction, caused through PMI’s poisonous products which are freely and widely on sale!
Enough wriggling, Mr Calantzopoulos. The right question is, indeed, ‘When will you stop selling cigarettes?’ Tell us the date!
Text © Gabriel Symonds