Boycotters Join INFACT in Telling Kraft to Stop Providing Smokescreen For Philip Morris
People in at least 42 states and 189 cities will be asking their friends and family to call Kraft Foods today to let them know they are joining INFACT in boycotting Kraft, owned by the world's largest and most profitable tobacco corporation Philip Morris.
While consciously putting Kraft's image prominently before the public as a wholesome, trusted food brand, out of consumers' earshot Philip Morris has been aggressive about invoking the link between its tobacco business and its Kraft Foods division to gain leverage in its fight with regulators and those who would expose the corporation's abusive practices.
In 1994, Philip Morris sued ABC and threatened to pull $100 million of its Kraft Foods and Miller beer advertising from the network over a program on boosting nicotine levels in cigarettes. In 1995, after the US Food and Drug Administration announced its intention to regulate the tobacco industry, Philip Morris mobilized its Oscar Mayer employees to write letters opposing the FDA regulations. In Wisconsin in 1997, Philip Morris threatened lawmakers that a tobacco tax increase could affect decisions concerning expansion of its Kraft Foods, Oscar Mayer or Miller facilities in the state. And in 1998, Philip Morris solicited PAC donations from its Kraft Foods employees for the purpose of fighting public health legislation to regulate the tobacco industry.
A Philip Morris spokesperson recently said that the corporation needs to boost its image by letting consumers know that the tobacco giant owns Kraft. " That strategy could backfire," said INFACT's Executive Director Kathryn Mulvey. "Philip Morris can't have it both ways. Consumers realize Philip Morris's appeal to the wholesome family value image of Kraft rings hollow when you consider the link between buying Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and supporting an industry that hooks over a million kids on tobacco each year in the US alone."
Philip Morris's own internal documents show that it feared INFACT's Boycott targeting Kraft because "that is one area where the Philip Morris corporate name has kept many people away from our other companies' products. " The breakup of RJR Nabisco earlier this year under pressure from boycotters, investors, and litigation is evidence that Kraft's wholesome image can't cover up the reality that Philip Morris is profiting from a deadly product. On the contrary, Philip Morris's drive to spread tobacco addiction will tarnish Kraft's reputation-just as RJR's negative image dragged down Nabisco's.
Noting the connection between growing momentum of the Kraft Boycott and the recent decision by the US Department of Justice to file suit against the tobacco industry, Ms. Mulvey said, "This is a grassroots uprising by consumers and juries against an industry that for too long has had a stranglehold over public policy. INFACT's Kraft Boycott gives consumers another lever to force hold Philip Morris accountable for its aggressive promotion of tobacco. Like the health care cost recovery lawsuits, the Kraft Boycott speaks to Philip Morris in a language it understands: money."
Founded in 1977, INFACT's purpose is to stop life-threatening abuses of transnational corporations and increase their accountability to people around the world. INFACT is known for its successful Nestle and GE Boycotts, and has been targeting the tobacco industry since 1993.