(AP) Tobacco giant Philip Morris this week is putting 17-page booklets with its positions on smoking risks and policies into U.S. newspapers that will reach 16 million readers.
The company said the campaign in The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today, and other papers is a way to encourage people to visit its recently redesigned Web site to learn more about tobacco’s health risks, discouraging teen smoking, and other topics.
Anti-smoking advocates called the move an effort to sway newly elected lawmakers to Philip Morris’ side in some lingering controversies, including Food and Drug Administration regulation of tobacco. Philip Morris has long said it supports certain FDA regulation; health groups argue the company’s proposals are too weak to protect the public.
“We have a new Congress, new elected officials around the country, and they intend to push an aggressive agenda,” said Matthew Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, noting that Philip Morris is a major player in Washington. The company contributed $3.1 million to federal candidates and the political parties for the 2002 elections.
By discussing FDA legislation and tobacco risks, the company is “trying to make it socially acceptable to be on their side … even while their core marketing practices haven’t changed,” Myers said.
Philip Morris Vice President Ellen Merlo said the ad campaign had no connection to the election. She would say only that the campaign cost “a substantial amount.”
On the Net: