Saturday, June 24, 2006

A Burning Question

As I was driving to work this week, I heard an ad for advice on how to keep your child from smoking by none other than Philip Morris. I wondered if there was a hidden agenda.

Then I read this weekend’s NY Times article which featured an interview with Steve Parrish, the VP for corporate affairs for Altria Group, the owner of Philip Morris. Parrish came on in 1997 as CEO to go up against the FDA’s David Kessler. But since hurling all those innuendos back then, he has come a long way. For one thing, he quit smoking. He has convinced his company to publicly admit that cigarettes are addictive and cause disease. He has started multiple programs to educate the public on the dangers of smoking. He has supported the regulation of the tobacco industry, bills that the tobacco lobby keeps getting scuttled in Congress.

He has displayed all this missionary zeal as he walks to the bank each year with $14 million dollars in compensation. So what’s up with this guy, with this company?

When asked the question – Why don’t you just quit making cigarettes? – Parrish said that if Philip Morris closed down tomorrow, it wouldn’t make a dent in the number of smokers. In other words, there are already so many people who are hooked and pay no attention to attempts to educate the public or to their source of cigarettes, that they would simply buy their cigarettes elsewhere.

It turns out that Philip Morris’s goal is not to quit making cigarettes, but rather to come up with a form of cigarette or other tobacco product that is not harmful to your health. Unfortunately over 400,000 people in the US will die from tobacco-related deaths each year while they are working in their labs and the youth of America will continue to smoke their Marlboros.

I suppose it is refreshing to know that tobacco executive Steve Parrish appears to have a conscience.

But doesn’t Philip Morris and anti-smoking seem like an oxymoron to you?


Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Yes, it does seem to be an oxymoron, but at least he is owning up to a lot more than most of the other tobacco companies and his new venture is in keeping more with regard for the ultimate health of many people.

He probably has all kinds of pressure re: The Family Business Legacy...heirs etc. which must be a huge thing. He doesn't need the money in his lifetime for himself but there is a whole bigger picture in the family corporation. So maybe he's meeting all that seems at odds with each other in a, "Meet Half Way" attempt, which can be in line with his new-found conscience.

I'm just trying to put myself in his difficult position. He's probably doing the only thing he can do, taking into account all the influencing factors of the situation.

But who really knows?!!! Maybe he's just living by the, "I'D RATHER FIGHT THAN SWITCH!" philosophy!!! HA!

9:18 AM  
Blogger RennyBA said...

Just stoped by to wish you a great weekend and hello from your Norwegian friend:-)

12:18 PM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

The tobacco companies are rotten to the core.

Original Americans used to smoke pure tobacco once in awhile for ritual purposes. There are certain herbal doctors who recommend tobacco smoke for sore throats! They're talking about the actual plant, not what the cig companies do by adding chemicals, preservatives, and then wrapping the leaves in paper which, when burned, is highly carcinogenic.

Wow what a rant! Where did that come from?

4:43 PM  

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