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Philip Morris has a conscience

By Maxine Shapiro, KERA 90.1 business commentator

Dallas, TX – So let's say your company stock is flirting with a new 52-week low. But just this past June, your stock was twenty dollars higher at a price your company hadn't seen since 1998. And the product you're selling has serious, if not deadly, health effects. Wouldn't you pull out all the stops?! I'm Maxine Shapiro with KERA Marketplace Middays.

Well, it looks like Philip Morris is doing just that. If you do not get the Morning News, Star Telegram, USA Today or numerous other newspapers, or you haven't had time to open it up yet, quickly find one and check this out. Right along with all the usual Wednesday advertising inserts is a shiny blue cardboard stock folder asking us to visit philipmorrisusa.com, where you can find information on, now these are direct quotes: "The serious health effects of smoking, quitting smoking, cigarette ingredients, how to talk to your kids about not smoking - and more."

Once my mouth closed, I opened this folder and found a 20-page booklet with excerpts from the site discussing all of the above - the negative effects of smoking. Isn't Philip Morris a tobacco company? I had to call them. How much did this cost, isn't this a little odd, and WHY? They sent me today's press release. "This ad is part of our ongoing effort to communicate more broadly about important and relevant tobacco issues," said Ellen Merlo, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs. I'd say!

Listen up, Dallas City Council - this is from a very candid section on second-hand smoke. "Philip Morris U.S.A. believes that the conclusions of public health officials concerning environmental tobacco smoke are sufficient to warrant measures that regulate smoking in public places." The site also quotes the International Agency for the Research on Cancer - second-hand smoke can also be classified as carcinogenic to humans. It's as if they were saying "don't buy our product." Philip Morris stock is up today. For KERA Marketplace Middays, I'm Maxine Shapiro.

 

Marketplace Midday Reports air on KERA 90.1 Monday - Friday at 1:04 p.m. To contact Maxine Shapiro, please send emails to mshapiro@kera.org.