In today's column by Jacob Sullum in Reason Online magazine's Hit & Run blog, Sullum comments on the public relations bonanza achieved by Philip Morris through its massive achievement of convincing the anti-smoking groups to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with it in promoting the FDA tobacco legislation, which President Obama signed into law earlier this afternoon. Sullum jokingly (but not really) refers to Philip Morris as the new hero of the anti-smoking movement.
Playing up to that role, Philip Morris has issued a statement in which it boasts about its concern for health issues and its commitment to high standards. Its executive vice president writes that: "Altria and Philip Morris USA have supported federal regulation of tobacco products by the Food and Drug Administration for nearly a decade -- and with good reason. Fundamentally, we cannot ignore the health issues associated with tobacco use and their implications for consumers and society as a whole. ... We believe that a comprehensive regulatory framework, implemented thoughtfully, can provide significant benefits to tobacco consumers. These benefits include establishing a common set of high standards for all tobacco manufacturers and importers doing business in the U.S., providing a framework for the evaluation of tobacco products that are potentially less harmful than conventional cigarettes, and creating clear principles for accurate and scientifically grounded communication about tobacco products to consumers."
The Rest of the Story
Ironically, it is the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the other anti-smoking groups which supported this legislation that made Philip Morris a hero of the anti-smoking movement. And, as I revealed earlier today, Dr. David Kessler even went so far as to heap praise upon Philip Morris.
By agreeing to negotiate with Philip Morris, by reaching a deal with Philip Morris, and by forming an alliance with Philip Morris to push forward legislation that Philip Morris helped craft to regulate its own products in its own preferred way, the anti-smoking groups have legitimized this tobacco company and made it a legitimate public health entity. Yes, Philip Morris is - thanks to its friends at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids - a hero in the anti-smoking movement.