May 6, 2020

STATEMENT: Philip Morris International silences public health advocates, touts COVID-19 CSR at annual meeting

This morning Philip Morris International (PMI) held their first all-virtual annual shareholders’ meeting.

Yesterday, in advance of the meeting, tobacco control advocates from Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Africa gathered to decry PMI’s continued profits off of death and addiction. Additionally, nearly ten thousand people have called on public health ministers around the world to hold PMI financially accountable for its abuses and cease funding publicity stunts, and many echoed the call for this to be the #YearOfNoTobacco on social media.

In keeping with PMI’s years-long multibillion-dollar campaign to rebrand itself, the corporation put on a performance for investors. PMI executives reassured its shareholders that there would be continued opportunities to profit off of products that, if consumed correctly, kill their users.

During the meeting, PMI also attempted to quell any potential investor concerns about the impact of COVID-19 on access to its products, frame itself as a heroic contributor to public health amid a respiratory pandemic, and generate excitement about the economic potential for its “smoke-free” tobacco device, iQOS.

PMI executives assured attendees of the shareholders’ meeting that an hour was allotted for questions; however, after a mere thirty minutes, those waiting to ask questions were silenced and the meeting was ended. Despite a shortened Q&A period, a number of Corporate Accountability campaigners and allies were able to ask questions; Michél Legendre, Keltie Vance, and Ulysses Dortheo. Adriana Carvalho, Philip Jakpor, Daniel Dorado, and Eduardo Bianco were not permitted to ask their questions. Their drafted questions can be found at the links above.

See below for a statement from Corporate Accountability’s Associate Campaign Director, Michél Legendre.

“As if a generation of funding junk science, blocking and delaying life-saving policy, and selling a deadly product wasn’t evidence enough, this year’s annual meeting was a stark reminder that Philip Morris International couldn’t care less about public health. Between heralding the profits it raked in by selling both traditional cigarettes and iQOS, and trying to co-opt a respiratory emergency, and silenced public health advocates on the front lines of the tobacco epidemic, whose voices shareholders most need to hear. While PMI may try to continue to hold up its “smoke-free” mask with one hand while selling addictive and deadly tobacco products with the other, people aren’t buying it. It’s time for shareholders to read the writing on the wall and leave Big Tobacco behind.”

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