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NAQC Newsroom: Tobacco Control

Philip Morris International CEO claims it isn't hard to quit smoking...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011  
Posted by: Natalia Gromov

Philip Morris International CEO Claims It Isn't Hard to Quit Smoking – Comment is Irresponsible and Contradicted by Science

Statement of Matthew L. Myers

President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

WASHINGTON, DC (May 11, 2011) – According to a report by the Associated Press, Philip Morris International CEO Louis Camilleri today stated at the company's annual shareholder meeting in New York that, while cigarettes are addictive, "it is not that hard to quit.” This is a highly irresponsible, self-serving and scientifically inaccurate statement by Philip Morris International, the world's largest multinational tobacco company. This statement continues the tobacco industry's long history of denying or downplaying the addictiveness and health risks of its products. It echoes the infamous testimony of major tobacco industry executives before Congress in1994, all of whom stated under oath that they believed "nicotine is not addictive.” Mr. Camilleri's statement also shows that Philip Morris International truly has not changed despite its claims of being a reformed and responsible company.

Numerous scientific authorities have found that nicotine is highly addictive and that it is very difficult to quit smoking:

· According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Nicotine dependence is the most common form of chemical dependence in the United States. Research suggests that nicotine is as addictive as heroin, cocaine, or alcohol. Quitting smoking is difficult and may require multiple attempts.” (http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/cessation/quitting/index.htm)

· According to the U.S. Public Health Service, "Tobacco dependence is a chronic disease that often requires repeated intervention and multiple attempts to quit.” Studies have found that more than 70 percent of the 46 million smokers in the U.S. report that they want to quit, and about 45 percent report that they try to quit each year. However, only 4 to 7 percent of them are successful. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK12193/)

· According to the Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention at the University of Wisconsin, most smokers and users of chewing tobacco attempt to quit 5 to 7 times before quitting for good. (http://www.ctri.wisc.edu/Smokers/Help%20Someone%20Quit%20Tobacco.pdf)

It is stunning in the face of such overwhelming scientific evidence for the leader of the world's largest private tobacco company to deny how addictive and difficult to quit cigarettes truly are.

In fact, the tobacco companies' own internal documents show that they have long recognized that nicotine is powerfully addictive. A 1982 memo by a Philip Morris researcher, stated, "Nicotine is a potent pharmacological agent. Every toxicologist, physiologist, medical doctor and most chemists know that. It's not a secret.” (more quotes available at http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/research/factsheets/pdf/0009.pdf). In her 2006 ruling finding that major U.S. cigarette companies violated civil racketeering laws, U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler found that cigarette manufacturers have long concealed research data and other evidence about the addictiveness of nicotine and that "Defendants have falsely denied that they can and do control the level of nicotine delivered in order to create and sustain addiction.”

Mr. Camilleri's statement comes as Philip Morris International has tried to portray itself as a changed and responsible company even as it aggressively targeted new markets in low and middle-income countries and it stepped up efforts to defeat and undermine proven measures to reduce tobacco use. For example, Philip Morris has tried to bully Uruguay into weakening its strong tobacco control laws by filing a lawsuit claiming that Uruguay's laws violate an investment treaty. It has used similar tactics in other countries, while in others it has funded front groups, given money to governments and charities, and engaged in other tactics to buy influence and block action to reduce tobacco use and save lives.

Mr. Camilleri's statement today sends a clear message to governments around the world that they must take effective action to reduce tobacco use and reject all efforts by Philip Morris International and other tobacco companies to undermine such action. Philip Morris International's statement today is a powerful reminder that its only interest is to boost profits by selling more of its deadly and addictive.

Cigarette maker Philip Morris International CEO says tobacco 'not that hard to quit'

By MICHAEL FELBERBAUM

AP Tobacco Writer

11 May 2011

Associated Press Newswires

(c) 2011. The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The head of cigarette maker Philip Morris International Inc. told a cancer nurse Wednesday that while cigarettes are harmful and addictive, it is not that hard to quit.

CEO Louis C. Camilleri's statement was in response to comments at its annual shareholder meeting in New York, in which the seller of Marlboro and other brands overseas spent most of the gathering sparring with members of anti-tobacco and other corporate accountability groups targeting its marketing and regulatory dealings.

A woman identifying herself as a nurse named Elizabeth from the University of California-San Francisco cited statistics that tobacco use kills more than 400,000 Americans and 5 million people worldwide each year.

She also said a patient told her last week that of all the addictions he's beaten -- crack, cocaine, meth -- cigarettes have been the most difficult.

In response, the often unapologetic Camilleri said: "We take our responsibility very seriously, 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. Nevertheless, whilst it is addictive, it is not that hard to quit. ... There are more previous smokers in America today than current smokers."

Camilleri was characterized as a "longtime smoker himself," who had quit only once for three months when he had a cold, in a April 2009 BusinessWeek article. The company did not immediately comment on Camilleri's remarks, or whether he still smokes.

Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said the comments represent the "most irresponsible form of corporate double-speak."

"Study after study has documented the powerful addiction to cigarettes is one of the most difficult to overcome of any drug anywhere in the world," Myers said. "It is stunning in the face of overwhelming science for the leader of the world's largest private tobacco company to deny how difficult and addictive cigarettes are."

During the meeting, Camilleri also discussed the key challenges facing the tobacco industry like tax hikes and regulation, including product display bans, bans on the use of certain ingredients, and plain packaging. He said some of these restrictions impede competition, add costs for retailers, encourage adult smokers to make choices purely on price, and foster black markets.

He also said Philip Morris International has successfully managed regulation in the past such as public smoking restrictions, marketing constraints and graphic warning labels.

"In fact, we have largely supported these measures within the framework of comprehensive, effective, and uniform tobacco regulation," Camilleri said. "We do not, however, support regulation that prevents adults from buying and using tobacco products, or that imposes unnecessary impediments to the operation of the legitimate tobacco market."

Last year, Philip Morris International saw its profit grow 14.5 percent as its net revenue excluding excise taxes rise 8.7 percent. The company has raised prices and focused on emerging markets for growth as tax hikes, smoking bans, health concerns and social stigma have cut cigarette demand worldwide.

Philip Morris International, with offices in New York and Lausanne, Switzerland, was spun off from Richmond, Va.-based Altria in March 2008. Altria still sells Marlboro and other Philip Morris brands in the U.S.

Philip Morris International is the world's largest non-governmental cigarette seller, smaller only than state-controlled China National Tobacco Corp.

Source: Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

 


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