NEW YORK (AP) -- Philip Morris Cos. Inc., parent of the world's
biggest tobacco company, is acknowledging publicly that tobacco
isn't safe and is trying to remake its image with a $100 million
"For too long we have let others define who we are," Steven
Parrish, senior vice president for corporate affairs for Philip
Morris, said Tuesday.
The company has launched a corporate Web site, stating in one
section that "there is no `safe' cigarette" and that "cigarette
smoking is addictive, as that term is most commonly used today."
The company, which for years disputed research that found
smoking contributed to health problems, also acknowledged that
smokers face tremendous health hazards.
"There is an overwhelming medical and scientific consensus that
cigarette smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema and
other serious diseases in smokers," the Web site says. "Smokers
are far more likely to develop serious diseases, like lung cancer,
The site even offers advice on quitting smoking and on
interpreting tobacco and nicotine ratings. It also lists the
ingredients in each of its brands, though not the proportions.
Last April, Brown & Williamson, unveiled a Web site that said
the company believes smokers "are taking significant health
The site also offered a long list of ingredients in cigarettes,
excluding the proprietary flavoring ingredients, and said it's
appropriate for health authorities to warn that smoking is
Parrish said Philip Morris has previously provided lists of
ingredients to the government but that this is the first time
smokers will get a chance to see what goes into each brand.
Parrish had told analysts in June that the company intended to
strike a "far more visible profile" in responding to critics and
publicizing the company's economic and social contributions.
"It may just be a PR effort," David Kessler, a former
commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said today on
ABC's "Good Morning America."
"But it has important consequences," he said. "They are
saying nicotine is an addictive product. Now they should agree to
FDA regulation. ... What other addictive substance is not regulated
by the FDA?"
The ad campaign comes as tobacco companies remain under attack
from the federal government, health insurers and public health
advocates who want the industry to help pay the costs of treating
sick smokers and to discourage children from starting to smoke.
The industry tried to put many of these claims to rest when it
reached settlements under which it will pay $246 billion to the 50
states over 25 years and accepted restrictions on marketing
cigarettes in exchange for withdrawal of lawsuits.
But the federal government sued the industry last month to
recover some of the $20 billion a year it spends on health programs
for diseases related to smoking. The industry also faces dozens of
suits by health insurers and individuals who claim it concealed for
decades the full extent of what it knew of the dangers of smoking.
The company's TV ads were to begin running during today's
baseball playoff games and will appear on high-profile news, sports
and primetime shows like "ER."
In addition to its tobacco operations, Philip Morris owns Miller
Brewing Co. and Kraft Foods, which makes Jell-O, Maxwell House
coffee and Oscar Mayer meats.
Parrish said the campaign should educate people that Philip
Morris is more than a tobacco company that makes the best-selling
Marlboro brand and that it contributes significantly to improving
In one commercial, an elderly woman expresses her appreciation
for tangerines and other food she has been receiving from a food
bank supported by Kraft Foods. Another ad tells the story of a
women abused by her husband and how she rebuilt her life and kept
her children safe with help from a program for abused women to
which Philip Morris has contributed. A third ad recounts how Miller
Brewing supplied bottled water to flood victims.