Tobacco Company Says Evidence Shows Smoking Unhealthy
The nation's largest cigarette maker, Philip Morris Cos. Inc., has for the first time acknowledged that medical evidence points to smoking as a cause of a number of lethal diseases, including lung cancer.
On a new Internet site Philip Morris unveiled as part of an effort ``to communicate more openly with the public,'' the maker of top-selling Marlboro cigarettes said there is an ''overwhelming medical and scientific consensus that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema and other serious diseases in smokers.''
The company also said that smoking ``is addictive as that term is most commonly used today.''
Until now, those points -- that smoking is unhealthy and addictive -- have been hotly contested by Philip Morris, which along with other cigarette makers has been the target of fierce litigation on behalf of sick and deceased smokers.
The New York company said the Web site -- www.philipmorris.com -- is part of a campaign that also includes television spots and is aimed at presenting a friendly corporate image.
Philip Morris said it intended to let the American public know its involvement in a number of charitable and philanthropic causes. The company said the campaign would underscore its involvement in four areas: hunger, disaster relief, curbing youth access to tobacco and domestic violence.
``Most people, however, are unaware of our efforts. For too long we have let others define who we are -- now we will focus on getting our story out to the American people. Going forward, we want a more active dialogue with others, including our critics, in an effort to reach common sense solutions to the issues surrounding our products,'' company spokesman Steven Parrish said in a prepared release.
The Wall Street Journal said Philip Morris plans to spend about $100 million a year, or about 5 percent of its total annual ad budget, for the friendly-face campaign.
The campaign has been designed by the Chicago ad agency Leo Burnett, The WSJ said.