Funeral March in Philadelphia Protests Philip Morris Contribution
to Republican National Convention
Several civic organizations will hold a mock funeral march today in downtown Philadelphia to protest the efforts of the Philip Morris Company to buy respectability through its contributions to help underwrite the Republican National Convention.
Philip Morris has contributed $250,000 to the Philadelphia 2000 convention host committee, and is giving delegates elephant-shaped macaroni made by its Kraft Foods division as gifts. The New York Times has also reported that a Philadelphia street is being temporarily renamed for Philip Morris.
The protest march, which will feature Mr. Butts, the Grim Reaper and other images, is designed to remind the public that Philip Morris is the nation's largest tobacco company and should be
publicly shunned for its misdeeds, not embraced.
"Hosting the convention is a proud moment for our city," said Reverend Jesse W. Brown, Jr., chairman of the Uptown Coalition for Tobacco Control and Public Health.
"But there's a cloud over this convention because its organizers have accepted funding from Big Tobacco. The Philip Morris Company tries to fool people into thinking that it is a responsible company
that should be identified primarily by the food products it makes, like Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. But we know their tobacco products are responsible for hundreds of thousands of funerals every year and that Philip Morris is continuing to market cigarettes to kids."
Reverend Brown, speaking for the Uptown Coalition, challenged the host committee to return the tainted money and to remove the Philip Morris name from convention venues. He said that acceptance of the contribution was an embarrassment for Philadelphia because
in Los Angeles, the host committee for this year's Democratic National Committee rejected a similar contribution from Philip Morris and refused all donations from tobacco companies.
Philip Morris is the maker of Marlboro, the most popular cigarette brand in the United States. As the number one cigarette manufacturer, they bear the greatest responsibility for the more than 400,000 Americans who die each year from smoking. Marlboro is also the major youth brand, with almost 60 percent of the youth market. Every day, 3,000 kids become regular smokers; one-third of
them will die prematurely of smoking-related disease.
"Philip Morris has been shameless in its attempts to buy a high profile and a positive image at the Republican National Convention. Today we are fighting back by exposing the tobacco giant's role,"
said Sangita Nayak, INFACT Organizing Director. "INFACT is asking Philadelphians to join this fight by joining the growing boycott of Philip Morris' food subsidiary, Kraft."