May 5, 2021

Statement: Corporate Accountability speaks to PMI executives at 2021 shareholders’ meeting

Mary Vance, Senior Campaign Coordinator

Hello, my name is Mary Vance and my question is about the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World. After more than three years of operation, the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World continues to be solely funded by Philip Morris International. Even now, more than a year into a global pandemic, where tobacco use is known to increase the severity of COVID-19, the foundation continues to push so-called corporate social responsibility programs to normalize tobacco consumption and new products like IQOS.

[In today’s review of Philip Morris International’s activities of the past year, executives neglected to mention] the implications of a recent lawsuit about PMI’s connection to the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World. If the lawsuit’s allegations are substantiated, then the foundation has violated the conditions of its tax-exempt status in the United States.

If these allegations are confirmed, there is no denying the cooperation between your corporation and the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, proving what tobacco control advocates have been saying since the foundation’s inception: that the foundation is an integral part of Philip Morris International’s web of influence and deceit. This is also evidenced by the foundation’s financial support to multiple grantees, whose research was funded to support Philip Morris International’s interests. The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World is just a thinly-veiled front group pushing Big Tobacco’s agenda.

I’ve stood before you for the past three shareholders’ meetings demanding an answer to this same question: Will your corporation release its correspondence with and notes of discussions regarding the establishment of the foundation and commit to doing so on an ongoing basis?


Michél Legendre, Associate Campaign Director

Good Morning, my name is Michél Legendre.

In July 2019, Philip Morris International’s senior vice president for global communications stated, “Once IQOS is legal for sale in a country, PMI immediately stops marketing cigarettes,” and that the “corporation plans to convert 40 million people away from cigarettes by 2025.” But time and again, in country after country, your corporation has in fact continued marketing cigarettes unless already existing country regulations force you to stop.

People around the globe know the truth: PMI will say and do anything to keep manufacturing, peddling, and profiting from its deadly products, while trumpeting its supposed concern for public health. In Colombia, IQOS was introduced in 2017 during a music festival. Since that moment the IQOS brand has been promoted simultaneously with the Marlboro brand, at the same festival every year. We have evidence of young models promoting IQOS and Marlboro, employing advertising strategies as if tobacco advertising in Colombia hadn’t been completely banned since 2011. There have been women promoting the sale of single sticks of Marlboro in the street. Your Fusion Summer brand of Marlboro boasts of “New Flavor, Ready to Explore?” [we have photo evidence and more examples in other countries]

Like an old cigarette vending machine that should’ve been retired long ago, PMI keeps its same old PR apparatus pumping out bogus sound bites about a supposed transformation. In the meantime, you continue business as usual: a deadly playbook of marketing, junk science, and political interference. So my question is this: Was Mariann Saltzman lying, or will PMI finally stop all marketing, promotion, and sponsorship of cigarettes and end its political opposition to cigarette regulations in the dozens of countries where IQOS has been introduced?

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