|WASHINGTON - April 25 - Following is a statement
by Matthew L. Myers, president, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:
Last year in the Czech Republic, Philip Morris issued a report
arguing that early smoking deaths had "positive effects" because
they reduce government spending on benefits for the elderly.
Today, at the company's annual meeting in Richmond, outgoing Philip
Morris Chairman and CEO Geoffrey Bible blamed parents, rather than
his company's aggressive marketing, for the problem of youth
smoking. Philip Morris' latest statement shows a cynical disregard
for the facts and is deeply offensive to parents across America.
While Philip Morris may have changed its corporate name to Altria
today, it hasn't changed its deadly practices and refuses to accept
responsibility for the fact that more kids smoke its Marlboro
cigarettes than all other brands combined. Nothing has changed but
Asked at the annual meeting if Philip Morris would get rid of
the Marlboro Man to show that it is serious about being a
responsible company, Bible said it was "simply naive" to think that
eliminating the Marlboro Man would reduce youth smoking. Bible
went on to argue that most youth smokers don't buy cigarettes and
that nine out of ten of them get cigarettes from loose packs left
around by adults. Surveys of youth smokers tell a different story.
According to the 2000 National Youth Tobacco Survey conducted by
the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 58.2 percent
of 9th to 12th graders who had smoked in the past 30 days reported
that they usually purchased their cigarettes -- 33.1 percent
usually bought their cigarettes from a story or vending machine,
while 25.1 percent had somebody else buy cigarettes for them. Just
2.9 percent reported taking them from a store or family member.
Also, if it were true that most kids get their cigarettes from
careless adults, then why do 54.8 percent of youth smokers smoke
Marlboro compared to just 36 percent of adults 26 and older?
Philip Morris' actions today show once again that, while
claiming to be a changed company, it is in fact willing to do and
say almost anything to block real change that would reduce the
addiction, disease and death caused by its products.