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A peek inside Cigarette City, USA

Michael Schwartz August 30, 2013 27
Phillip Morris USA president and CEO Billy Gifford. (Photo by Michael Schwartz)

Phillip Morris USA president and CEO Billy Gifford. (Photo by Michael Schwartz)

Richmond likes to be known as the River City, but Philip Morris USA’s massive manufacturing center just south of downtown could win the nickname Cigarette City.

The manufacturing center – or MC, as the company calls it — is celebrating its 40th birthday, and the tobacco giant opened its gates Thursday to give reporters a peek at how it produces what amounts to half of all cigarettes sold in the United States.

Cameras were prohibited in the production area to prevent competitors from seeing the plant’s operations. What lenses would have captured was 20,000 cigarettes being produced per minute in Philip Morris’s “super high speed” production bays. Cigarettes speed so quickly through the process that they are but a blur as they pass.

An archival photo of the center. (Photo courtesy of Philip Morris USA)

An archival photo of the center. (Photo courtesy of Philip Morris USA)

The nearly 2 million-square-foot facility sits on 200 acres at 3601 Commerce Road. It runs 24 hours a day, five days a week, with about 2,000 employees, said production manager Kevin Weaver. The end result is 600 million cigarettes produced and packaged per day.

The major subsidiary of West End-based Altria Group, Philip Morris produces 176 different types of cigarettes under various brands.

Marlboro is its lead brand by far, accounting for 40 percent of all cigarettes sold in the United States, the company said. Marlboro Gold cigarettes are the biggest seller.

The company has put more than $200 million in upgrades and maintenance into the MC over the past few years and is in hiring mode at the facility.

That growth comes amid pressure on the cigarette industry from new regulations and changing habits. Consumption of cigarettes is in decline, but the market for smokeless tobacco and nicotine products continues to grow.

Electronic cigarettes and other smokeless products are new sources of potential revenue for the company, said Billy Gifford, president and CEO of Philip Morris USA.

The company is testing a product called Verve, a polymer disk containing tobacco-derived nicotine.

“We see it as an opportunity,” Gifford said Thursday of smokeless products.

Still, 75 percent of Altria’s profits come from products that are meant to be smoked: cigarettes and cigars. Altria’s second quarter earnings were $1.27 billion, from revenue of $4.5 billion.

Inside the manufacturing center. (Photo courtesy of Philip Morris USA)

Inside the manufacturing center. (Photo courtesy of Philip Morris USA)

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27 Comments »

  1. Steve Brown August 30, 2013 at 8:20 am - Reply

    Great place, great people. I enjoyed my 18 years with the team at Philip Morris.

  2. Jon Krueger August 30, 2013 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    600 million cigarettes per day — impressive!

    That works out to 750 customers killed per day.

    It’s about 40,000 packs per death. Naturally those packs made that day didn’t cause the deaths that occurred that same day, but over time it’s accurate to say that 40,000 packs cause one death.

    So every day this facility operates, 750 customers die as a direct result.

    Laurel Park. Gone in one day. Keysville: next day. Sherando: the day after that.

    • Ruben August 30, 2013 at 3:33 pm - Reply

      Very interesting indeed. My mother-in-law is from Keysville.

    • Charles Batchelor August 30, 2013 at 10:59 pm - Reply

      Jon, I’ll grant you your overall point. Smoking kills people.

      It’s not just death cigarettes bring to humankind, but sometimes it’s just an awful lingering sickness that drains both the soul and pocketbooks of individuals who smoke but often also their families and anyone who cares for them. And there is a dollar cost to society overall as well, as the medical costs from smoking drive up the insurance rates which we all pay.

      People should not smoke.

      But, they do. And someone is going to make cigarettes because people buy them. (Remember they tried prohibition on alcohol. That didn’t work out so well.)

      If you look into carefully, as journalists at publications such as The New York Times have, the Philip Morris of today seems to be playing a very difficult role well. If you were running PM, feeling as you do, you might have a tough time doing it more carefully and responsibly.

      Shut the company down! Right? OK, but others would step in and they would not pay their employees as well, they would not be as careful with their marketing, they would be more aggressive in their advertising, they would not support having tobacco overseen by the FDA as PM did.

      Some of the best research, with solid actionable recommendations, I have seen on why children smoke and how to keep them from starting was from PM. (Schools and community can play a role, but parents are the key. Yeah, it’s your Mother’s fault. Or your Dad’s. One more thing to blame them for. Sorry Mom and Dad.)

      I’ve met more than a few line employees, senior managers and executives at PM who are jerks or none-too-bright. But, looking at the overall process, there are some good people within PM who have, overall, done a pretty good job (not perfect) given the difficult real world position they are in.

      But someone should do something, I guess, other than blame the parents and keep on keeping on. First, let’s get this out of the way: People should be more responsible for themselves. People can quit smoking. Not easy, but it is a choice, etc.

      For many years I looked at this from the tobacco farmers’ perspective. I concluded good farmers should be growing tobacco because if they did not, the bad farmers would, and bad farming would pay more than good farming. (This came close to happening in the early days in some parts of the tobacco programs. It wasn’t pretty.)

      It’s complicated.

      What about the retailers who sell cigarettes? No, I am not saying one store or one chain of retailers can make cigarettes go away, but they can make it just a bit more difficult for their local customers to buy cigarettes. It’s odd to me how some retailers will sometimes not sell that magazine or offer this book for sale, making a judgment call which (even if I disagree with it) is within their rights and, indeed, is their responsibility. But, ask them why they offer cigarettes? “Well, we’re here to sell what people want to buy,” we hear. And that sounds logical. But, is it ethical?

      And, so what is my responsibility as an individual or consumer? If it is not right to work at a place (or invest in a business, or do business with a firm) that makes cigarettes, is any less right to work at (or invest in, or buy products from) a business that sells cigarettes?

      One thing that does decrease smoking is raising the price of cigarettes. There is a direct cause and effect, the higher the price, the less they buy–even on cigarettes. And you don’t have to be PM or a retailer to do that. You can be the government, doing it with taxes. What’s up with that here in Virginia?

      • Jon Krueger September 2, 2013 at 1:53 pm - Reply

        “someone is going to make cigarettes because people buy them”

        This is the cozy explanation the tobacco industry: gives of itself: a passive purveyer of products that would be consumed anyway.

        The facts are less cozy: this is a predatory industry that engineers its product for addiction, aggressively markets it, and gets almost all of its customers addicted as children.

        Smoking does not fall from the sky. 50 million Americans didn’t just all take it into their heads to start smoking.

        This industry does not aggressively market its product because people would smoke anyway. It does so to increase smoking.

        This industry does not kill tobacco prevention programs because people would smoke anyway. It kills them because it knows they would reduce smoking

        This industry does not engineer is product for addiction because people would buy them anway. It does to because it knows that gets people to buy more cigarettes, to be unable to stop.

      • Jon Krueger September 2, 2013 at 2:13 pm - Reply

        “Some of the best research, with solid actionable recommendations, I have seen on why children smoke and how to keep them from starting was from PM”

        Philip Morris indeed has an excellent understanding of how to get kids to smoke and keep them smoking. Until recently Philip Morris was able to keep most of this secret. The discovery of once-secret Philip Morris executive memos reveals:

        “It is important to know as much as possible about teenage smoking patterns and attitudes. Today’s teenager is tomorrow’s potential customer, and the overwhelming majority of smokers first begin to smoke while still in their teens.” Johnston M., Daniel HG, Levy CJ. 8102 Young smokers – prevalence, trends, implications and related demographic trends. March 31, 1981. Philip Morris.

        “…it is during the teenage years that the initial brand choice is made. At least a part of the success of Marlboro Red during its most rapid growth period was because it became the brand of choice among teenagers who then stuck with it as they grew older.” (same memo)

        ““Marlboro’s phenomenal growth rate in the past has been attributable in large part to our high market penetration among young smokers . . .15 to 19 years old . . .my own data, which includes younger teenagers, shows even higher Marlboro market penetration among 15–17-year-olds.”
        Johnston M. The decline in the rate of growth for Marlboro Red. May 21, 1975. Philip Morris Companies, Inc.

        Philip Morris product placement 1987-89: “The Muppet Movie”, “Amazon Women on the Moon”, “Robocop”, “Tapeheads”, “Dream Team”, “Field of Dreams”, “K-9”, “War Party”, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, and “Crocodile Dundee”. Philip Morris Companies, Inc. List by Year of movies for which product was supplied in connection with Charles Pomerantz and Andrew Varela. March 1989.

        “Sales— Outstanding! Outstanding! Outstanding! . . .This account is located 2 blocks from
        Bellingham High School. Our pre-sell has sold through. The account had reordered and
        received more product”. Sales field report. [PM Doc. #87051949, March 8, 1988]

        “Because of our high share of the market among the youngest smokers, Philip Morris will suffer
        more than the other companies from the decline in the number of teenage smokers.”
        [PM Doc. #1000390803/0855, March 31, 1981]

        This probably isn’t the research you’re referring to, however. This is what Philip Morris says in private. You’re probably talking about what Phillip Morris says in public, where it likes to pretend it’s all against youth smoking.

        In public, Philip Morris lloves to mention every other possible cause of youth smoking, everything but its own aggressive marketing to youth. It’s the parent’s fault! The teen’s fault! His peers! The school! The community! Society! Then Philip Morris likes to paint itself as part of the solution.

        The fact is, Philip Morris is part of the problem. That’s what engineering product for addiction, relentlessly marketing it to kids, and fighting tobacco prevention does: it increases smoking.

    • Jon Krueger September 7, 2013 at 2:32 am - Reply

      Over the week we’ve been having this conversation, this plant manufactured the product that will kill 3000 customers.

      882 lung cancer deaths. 847 heart disease deaths. 630 COPD deaths. 237 deaths from other cancers. 108 deaths from stroke. 298 deaths from various other diseases that this product causes, used exactly as intended.

      It would have been more, but Labor Day reduced the total this week.

      Over this same week, Philip Morris spent $80 million advertising and promoting this product.

  3. keith August 30, 2013 at 5:54 pm - Reply

    I like Philip morris for the most part , this state in particular was founded on tobacco , for me it is all about jobs, tax revenue and personal choices . a lot of these people you refer to died for smoking to many packs per day . who’s fault is that. it is individual choices and freedom to do whatever you want in this country without breaking the law , it is real basic and real simple , every industry in this country is under attack by some politician , most of whom are rich to begin with or some group out to ban this or ban that because of one reason or the other . the simple fact is it is personal choice , no one is telling you to do this , it is your CHOICE. no the thing that bothers me is American jobs were lost , America needs jobs , jobs and more jobs , whatever the problem with manufacturing jobs is in this country. it should be addressed and fixed

    • Jon Krueger September 2, 2013 at 2:19 pm - Reply

      “no one is telling you to do this , it is your CHOICE”|

      As long as nicotine is addictive, it’s not all about choice. That’s why Philip Morris engineers its product for addiction:

      “The cigarette should not be construed as a product but a package. The product is nicotine. Think of a puff of smoke as the vehicle for nicotine.” William L. Dunn Jr., Philip Morris researcher, 1972

    • Jon Krueger September 2, 2013 at 7:03 pm - Reply

      “a lot of these people you refer to died for smoking too many packs per day”

      Nope. For every 40,000 packs sold, one customer dies. That’s what this product does, used exactly as intended.

      The product produced every working day at this plant kills 750 people. That’s what this product does. And that’s the scale of production here.

      • Charles Batchelor September 2, 2013 at 9:15 pm - Reply

        Jon,
        The major players in the global tobacco industry today are plenty similar, but they are not all the same.
        You say, “The product produced every working day at this plant kills 750 people. That’s what this product does. And that’s the scale of production here.”
        OK. Therefore?
        It’s a tough question. They are just one company. If PM stops, someone else will pick up the production. Many people at Philip Morris are trying to come up with a good answer, playing the role they can and do play.
        PM is not alone. How about agriculture? Tobacco is still one of the top cash crops in Virginia, it’s number one in North Carolina. Small farmers here (many who have a serious investment in tobacco equipment) should… do what?
        “Outrage is fine if it leads to effective action. If it doesn’t, it’s just a hobby.” -William T. Powers

        • Jon Krueger September 3, 2013 at 8:52 am - Reply

          “The major players in the global tobacco industry today are plenty similar, but they are not all the same”

          They’re similar enough that they were all convicted together of federal racketeering for 50 years of lies and deception:

          http://publichealthlawcenter.org/topics/tobacco-control/tobacco-control-litigation/united-states-v-philip-morris-doj-lawsuit

          “It’s a tough question. They are just one company. If PM stops, someone else will pick up the production”

          The same morality used by drug lords, as I recall.

          And again, paints the industry as a passive supplier, just meeting customer demand. But that’s not the case: this is an industry that creates demand. That’s what billions of dollars of advertising and promotion every year are spent for. The industry does not just throw that money away. That’s what undermining tobacco prevention is for. That’s what engineering the product for addiction if for. Creating and sustaining demand.

          “Many people at Philip Morris are trying to come up with a good answer, playing the role they can and do play”

          Oh, please.If Philip Morris wanted to help, it could do so right now.

          It could stop aggressively marketing its lethal product.

          It could stop engineering it for addiction and for initiation (“smooth smokes”).

          It could stop undermining tobacco prevention.

          It could stop its lobbying and litigation and PR campaigns that push up smoking.

          It could stop lying and stonewalling about what its product does to the customer and to the people closest to the customer.

          It could stop any and all of those things today. Right now. It does’t need to find a role to play.

          It chooses to keep on doing these things. Because it puts its profits over people’s lives.

          So let’s not have any pretty talk about looking for a role to play. Philip Morris is playing exactly the role it wants to: pushing up sales of a lethal product.

  4. Steven Janiszewski August 30, 2013 at 11:52 pm - Reply

    Nicotine is, perhaps, the most addictive drug. It is, certainly, the most addictive licit drug.
    If you want to kick the nicotine monkey off your back, get “Stop Smoking and Lose Weight: A Buddhadharmically Enhanced Alchemical Transmutation Process,” by Tharpa Lodro
    http://www.amazon.com/Stop-Smoking-Weight-Buddhadharmically-ebook/dp/B00E55R8F6/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374761933&sr=1-1#

    And just do it.

    • R Sweeney September 1, 2013 at 12:18 pm - Reply

      Sorry, no.

      Nicotine is NOT an incredibly addictive drug. Do you see people mainlining nicotine? Making pure base nicotine (like crack)?

      No, you see people practicing a ritualized, associative behavior, 10 puffs per cigarette, 200 puffs per pack, 300 times per day for decades.

      Smoking is a an incredibly addictive BEHAVIOR. There is NOTHING like it for shear repetition of training events.

      It’s much more than mere pharmacology.

      • Jon Krueger September 2, 2013 at 2:31 pm - Reply

        http://www.nytimes.com/1987/03/29/magazine/nicotine-harder-to-kickthan-heroin.htm

        But perhaps the tobacco industry says it best:

        “nicotine is addictive. We are, then, in the business of selling nicotine, an addictive drug” Addison Yeaman, vice president and general counsel of Brown and Williamson Tobacco, 1963.

        • Charles Batchelor September 2, 2013 at 9:28 pm - Reply

          That is a classic article and the quote you pulled from kind of makes the point I’ve made here. But, in any case, I hope anyone smoking who clicks on that link reads the entire article. The writer notes:
          ——
          …For those who feel it is impossible to give up smoking, Dr. Ellen Gritz, director of the division of cancer control at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at U.C.L.A., offers some encouraging statistics. ”There are 37 million success stories,” she says. ”People typically need to try several times before they succeed.”…

          • Jon Krueger September 3, 2013 at 8:54 am -

            Oh, very true! Just as with heroin or cocaine. Very few people kick on their first try.

  5. Rob September 3, 2013 at 8:30 am - Reply

    So 40,000 packs equals one death huh? Well 40,000 packs is two packs a day for nearly 55 years. Let’s assume that people begin smoking the day they turn 13…IF they smoked two packs a day from day one, they’d live to be nearly 68 years old. Just wanted to give everyone an idea of what 40,000 packs equates to

    • Jon Krueger September 3, 2013 at 10:26 am - Reply

      Those 40,000 packs don’t have to be consumed by just one customer. And as you point out, seldom will be. No, that’s not how this product kills. If it killed only those who used it too much, we’d be having a very different conversation here.

      This product addicts, maims, and kills used exactly as intended.

  6. Jeremy W. September 12, 2013 at 10:10 am - Reply

    @ Jon Krueger.
    Tobacco isn’t the only things that kill. Fast food kills, motorcycles kill, guns kill, fried foods kill, Big Gulps kill, alcohol kills, cars kill and any number of other things kill . . when we abuse them. Rather than try to regulate every industry that can result in death when people abuse them, why not let people accept responsibility for their choices. Everyone today knows that smoking is not good for you. Despite the knowledge available, if you choose to continue to smoke, that’s your choice. If you start over-regulating industries that produce a product, which if abused can be harmful, the government will be in your home regulating every aspect of your life.

    • Jon Krueger September 12, 2013 at 12:12 pm - Reply

      Big Gulps do not kill used exactly as intended.

      Fast food does not kill used exactly as intended.

      Motorcycles, guns, fried foods, alcohol, cars do not; the list goes on and on.

      There is only one product that kills used exactly as intended. Philip Morris makes it. That’s what this factory does.

      “Smoking is not good for you” is typical minimizing. Would you say “anthrax is not good for you”? How about “carbon monoxide is not good for you”? No? Of course not; that would be minimizing.

      There’s no reason to minimize what this product does to the customer, used exactly as intended.

      Follow any group of 1000 people who use this product, as they go through life. You will find:

      * 6 will die from homicide

      * 12 from car accidents

      * 500 from this product, used exactly as intended

      (Richard Doll with Peto adjustments)

      However I agree with you on accepting responsibility for one’s own choices. Philip Morris chooses to make an inherently lethal product that kills used exactly as intended. Philip Morris chooses to engineer it for addiction. Philip Morris chooses to aggressively promote it from coast to coast and around the world. Philip Morris chooses to make it attractive to children. Philip Morris chooses to undermine tobacco prevention. Philip Morris chooses to fight fight policies that reduce smoking. I absolutely believe in responsibility for choices. These are Philip Morris’s.

  7. keith September 12, 2013 at 7:52 pm - Reply

    Jon , you obviously have a major problem with Philip Morris, and that is your right , that is one of the many things that make’s this country special , freedom of speech , I disagree with your point of view on several level’s , the worse drug in the world is alcohol by far and it is the individual’s fault for drinking to much , yet manufactures can advertise alcohol yet they cannot advertise tobacco , the government can send a male or female in the military in harms way at 18 and you can die for your country , but you better not drink until your 21 , Europe is not like this , it is a common sense issue , do you honestly think it is going to curb underage drinking in this country . it is called personal responsibility for your own actions regardless of what you do , if a person is obese , does not exercise , drinks and smokes , guess what , they may have problems later on in life , this is the lifestyle they have chosen , is that Philip Morris’s fault Jon , these items all have a warning label on them , just like a lot of items sold in this country , does that stop a person from buying them , no . would you use a certain drug advertised on TV after hearing all the side effects? how safe is your tap water , see you can go anywhere with this . I try to promote individual thinker’s , that way if something happens. you can blame yourself instead of someone else

    • Jon Krueger September 13, 2013 at 3:01 pm - Reply

      Sorry; it’s not all about me. But it is about choice, yes. Here’s how.

      My “problem with Philip Morris” didn’t make Philip Morris engineer its product for addiction. It has nothing to do with me. Philip Morris chose to do that. That was Philip Morris’s choice.

      Every day at this facility, Philip Morris produces 600 million sophisticated drug delivery devices, optimized for rapid and precise delivery of a highly addictive drug. That’s the product design and engineering Philip Morris chose to do. And that’s what Philip Morris chooses to make at this facility.

      And my “problem with Philip Morris” didn’t make it aggressively market a lethal, addictive product. That’s Philip Morris’s choice. It chooses to do that every day.

      Likewise my “problem with Philip Morris” didn’t make it undermine tobacco prevention. That too was its choice. I had nothing to do with it.

      Nor did I have anything to do with Philip Morris’s choice to mislead the public about what its product does to its customers. And Philip Morris’s choice to mislead the public about what its product does to the people closest to its customers.

      For 50 years, Philip Morris “lied, misrepresented, and deceived the American public, including smokers and the young people they avidly sought as ‘replacement smokers,’ about the devastating health effects of smoking and environmental tobacco smoke, they suppressed research, they destroyed documents, they manipulated the use of nicotine so as to increase and perpetuate addiction, they distorted the truth about low-tar and light cigarettes so as to discourage smokers from quitting, and they abused the legal system in order to achieve their goal — to make money with little, if any, regard for individual suffering, soaring health costs, or the integrity of the legal system”. That’s what the Judge wrote when Philip Morris was convicted of federal racketeering. And those too are Philip Morris’s choices. No one held a gun to its head.

      • Charles Batchelor September 16, 2013 at 8:57 pm - Reply

        OK, I’ll grant you that. But, this is a business forum. So, therefore, …?
        -The business pro working with PM should…
        -PM employees should…
        -PM executives should…
        -PM stockholders should…

        What?

        Keep in mind that Philip Morris is just one company doing what they do. Others could enter into the biz, too.

        Yes, if you go back 50 or even 25 years, the picture isn’t a pretty. But, going forward is the challenge here now. It’s not simple or easy. And, yes, what was right yesterday might not be right for today, and what is right today will not be right for tomorrow. Tough sledding here.

        An individual employee at PM, for example, might wonder about their long-term employment. A retailer used to the profits from selling tobacco products might look for raising margins on other items. A stockholder might consider looking at the long term investment potential carefully.

        And an executive (which I suppose is who we are talking about when we say “Philip Morris should”) might look at, what?

        Is today’s Philip Morris part of the problem or part of the solution in difficult situation?

        It’s a dilemma. There are no answers, just a lot of very imperfect choices.

        The money (and there is a lot of it) they are making by selling tobacco products upsets some people. Maybe they don’t deserve all of that money. But, then, the state governments got billions of the tobacco money and how did they do? Not a good story. Probably would have been better, overall, to give it to the tobacco firm stockholders (pension funds, fat cats, executives, whatever) than the states. And no one certainly got punished or were “taught a lesson.”

        I posted this before and I’ll post it again:
        “Outrage is fine if it leads to effective action. If it doesn’t, it’s just a hobby.” -William T. Powers

        Your outrage, Jon, seemingly genuinely felt and fueled by a keen intelligence, isn’t helping and might be hurting (if, by nothing else, wasting time) despite your obviously good and sincere intentions.

  8. Jon Krueger September 17, 2013 at 12:50 pm - Reply

    “Is Philip Morris part of the problem or part of the solution?”

    You have to ask?

    Does aggressively promoting smoking sound like part of the solution to you?

    Engineering the product for addiction, making it attractive to kids: does that sound like part of the solution?

    How about undermining tobacco prevention, fighting policies that reduce smoking: does that sound like part of the solution?

    This facility itself is a shining example. Spending hundreds of millions of dollars to build and run a factory that makes cigarettes at a staggering rate: does that sound like part of the solution? Doesn’t it sound more like being heavily invested in the problem?

  9. Jon Krueger September 17, 2013 at 12:52 pm - Reply

    “if you go back 50 or even 25 years, the picture isn’t pretty…but today’s Philip Morris…moving forward”

    That’s Philip Morris PR: we’ve changed! That bad stuff is all in the past!

    Philip Morris spent $250 million on a PR campaign with that message at its core: new, changed, “responsible”. Today’s Philip Morris, er I mean Altria. That bad stuff is all in the past!

    Except it isn’t.

    Today and every day Philip Morris continues to aggressively market its lethal product.

    Today and every day Philip Morris continues to engineer its product for addiction.

    Today and every day Philip Morris continues to undermine tobacco prevention.

    Today and every day Philip Morris continues to fight policies and programs that reduce smoking.

    When Philip Morris was convicted of racketeering, the Judge was very clear that the crimes were NOT all in the past: “Defendants have NOT ceased engaging in unlawful activity…CONTINUE TO fraudulently deny the adverse health effects of secondhand smoke which they recognized internally; all Defendants CONTINUE TO market “low tar” cigarettes to consumers seeking to reduce their health risks or quit; all Defendants CONTINUE TO fraudulently deny that they manipulate the nicotine delivery of their cigarettes in order to create and sustain addiction; some Defendants CONTINUE TO deny that they market to youth in publications with significant youth readership and with imagery that targets youth; and some Defendants CONTINUE TO suppress and conceal information which might undermine their public or litigation position…Their CONTINUING conduct misleads consumers in order to maximize Defendants’ revenues by recruiting new smokers (the majority of whom are under the age of 18), preventing current smokers from quitting, and thereby sustaining the industry.” (emphasis mine)

  10. Jon Krueger September 17, 2013 at 12:58 pm - Reply

    “Outrage is fine if it leads to effective action. If it doesn’t, it’s just a hobby.”

    But there is effective action. Lots of it.

    This facility, for example: it didn’t just build itself. 2 million square feet, hundreds of millions of dollars; massive, effective, impressive. You want a facility like that, you need a whole lot of action, not to mention money. In operation it’s even more impressive: in just the two weeks we’ve had this conversation, it has produced over FIVE BILLION cigarettes. Which will go on to kill 6750 customers. Used exactly as intended.

    Then there’s the nation’s largest, longest-running, best financed, most effective tobacco education program. It’s run by the tobacco industry, it says cigarettes are great, smoking is cool, a great way to show your independence, everyone’s doing it, you should too! It’s highly effective. That’s probably why Philip Morris spends so much on it.

    Then there’s this industry’s 50 year campaign to get the public to doubt the facts about smoking — “keep doubt alive!” When Philip Morris was convicted of federal racketeering, the Judge cited this campaign. It was highly effective.

    Then there’s this industry’s long and continuing fight to undermine tobacco prevention. It aims to keep smoking accepted, normal, socially acceptable. Philip Morris has distinguished itself as a leader in this fight. You want effective action? Take a look. That tobacco prevention policy doesn’t just kill itself. It takes planning, communications, program management, money, lawyers, PR firms; it takes action.

    Then there’s recruiting kids. The results are impressive: Marlboro is the number one brand among kids, has been for a long time, with 60 percent of the underage market (Johnson et al., Monitoring the Future). Again, this doesn’t just happen.

    Then there’s engineering the product for addiction. Philip Morris likes to talk of a cigarette as an agricultural product. But in fact it makes “highly engineered drug delivery devices that act not only to provide users with controllable doses of nicotine, but also to maximize the addictive effects of nicotine.” (Henningfield and Fant, 1999). Of course this doesn’t just happen. It takes a lot of work, a lot of sophisticated R&D and manufacturing. A lot of action. And it has been effective. This is no hobby. This is how Philip Morris runs its business.

    Are you sure you want more action here? Have you considered less?

    Maybe less of Philip Morris’s kind of action would be good.

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