Philip Morris Decries Harassment from ‘Health Lobby’

“Obviously, these selfish, powerful corporations are colluding with the government to misrepresent facts and use marketing ploys to make people healthy at the expense of poor, honest tobacco companies.”

(Manila) A representative from Philip Morris International (PMI) expressed the company’s dismay at the discriminatory practices being used by the government to persecute the tobacco industry in the country.

“Shame on the Philippine government for this unwarranted attack on the beautiful tradition of smoking. ” PMI spokesman David Ribald said.

Ribald’s statement came after the MMDA set a ban on smoking in public places. Most recently, two security guards who were fined for public smoking filed a motion challenging the MMDA’s jurisdiction over the matter which precipitated a temporary restraining order against the MMDA’s smoking ban.

Unfair Representation

The PMI spokesman went on to say that the tobacco firm has evidence linking the government to health groups with plans of spreading misinformation about cigarette smoking and disrupting the tobacco industry.

“Obviously, these selfish, powerful heath groups are colluding with the government to misrepresent facts and use marketing ploys to make people healthy at the expense of poor, honest tobacco companies.” Ribald said.

The PMI statement pointed to label restrictions on tobacco products which requires warnings about the health hazards of smoking.

“Why can’t the labels be more balanced? We think the label should have one alleged negative effect of smoking but also include one fun positive effect.” Ribald explained.

The PMI statement provided a few examples of balanced labels such as: “Smoking may cause uncontrolled division of atypical, unfriendly cells BUT will definitely reduce your stress.” and “Smoking may cause lung discomfort BUT will definitely make you look cooler.”

Uncontrolled Division of Atypical, Unfriendly Cells

Asked about the phrase “uncontrolled division of atypical, unfriendly cells” Ribald explained that it is their preferred label for the disease more commonly known as ‘cancer.’

“Cancer is such an ugly word. Let’s say “uncontrolled division of atypical, unfriendly cells. And let’s not focus on such things.” Ribald said.

Instead, Ribald pointed to several studies pointing to the health benefits of smoking despite its unfortunate connection with cancer. Among these health benefits cited by PMI were “increased self-confidence,” “healthier self-esteem,” and “heightened awareness of coolness.”

Tobacco Farmers, Civil Liberties

Meanwhile, the PMI spokesman insisted that business was the least of their concerns and highlighted their concern for the civil liberties of smokers and the welfare of the tobacco farmers.

“What we are most concerned about are the civil liberties of smokers and the welfare of the tobacco farmers. The tobacco industry in the Philippines is one big happy family from those hard-working farmers, to the smokers, to the well-paid executives who sell our health products.” said Ribald.

The Commission of Human Rights is set to release their findings late this week after it reported an increased number in the cases of discrimination against smokers all across the metro since March.

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