Killing for a Living

How do you like global tobacco companies such as Philip Morris and British American Tobacco suing Third World governments and spending oodles of cash to lobby for smaller warning signs on their packaging? That's right, Big Tobacco is once again on the offensive to make sure it continues to maim and kill as many people as possible in the name of free enterprise. 

Cigarette I'm not surprised tobacco is targeting the Third World. That's where the growth and profits are (that said, though, an amazing 21 percent of Americans still smoke). But, to think that Philip Morris, for example, is actually suing the government of Uruguay for excessive tobacco regulations is beyond the pale. 

Could you imagine being head of marketing for one of these death merchants? Talk about making a pact with the devil. 

Peter Nixon of Philip Morris is one such merchant of death. He's quoted in the Times as saying his company '…agreed that smoking was harmful and supported reasonable regulations where none exist.' Gee, what a swell guy. 

Yes. Nixon agrees cigarette packaging should have some sort of warning (the smaller the better, I'm sure). But, he takes exception with the new, larger warnings being placed on cigarette boxes around the world. 'We thought 50 percent was reasonable,' he told the Times. 'Once you take it up to 80 percent, there's no space for trademarks to be shown. We thought that was going too far.' So, covering 80 percent of a cigarette box is going too far, but killing half a million people each and every year isn't? Methinks Mr. Nixon is smoking something other than cigarettes. 

More to the image and reputation point of this blog, though, how can someone, anyone, work for an organization that knowingly manufactures and sells a product that kills? How can PR and advertising agencies represent them? And, how can all of the above look at themselves in the mirror each and every morning?

Maybe the answer lies in another, smaller NY Times article from the November 2nd Health section. It reported that 'middle-aged smokers are far more likely than non-smokers to develop dementia later in life, and heavy smokers — those who go through more than two packs a day — are at more than double the risk.' I'll bet Mr. Nixon and his heavy smoking, middle- aged peers at Philip Morris, BAT and the other Big Tobacco players are just suffering from early onset dementia. They'd have to be certifiable to do killing for a living.


8 thoughts on “Killing for a Living

  1. Ha. I was tempted to make the connection with the president Archie Bunker always called ‘Richard E. Nixon’, but refrained. Good for you for pointing it out, Ms. B.

  2. Ha. I was tempted to make the connection with the president Archie Bunker always called ‘Richard E. Nixon’, but refrained. Good for you for pointing it out, Ms. B.

  3. While I also don’t see any need for private citizens to have guns, wthe Second Amendment isn’t going anywhere. In Florida or Texas, they’ll give you a free AK-47 with the purchase of a truck. On that basis alone, I want our police armed.
    As for Mr. Nixon, denial ain’t just some river in Egypt – something tells me he sleeps well at night. Still, even as they keep reaching for niches like teens, ethnic groups, or other continents, the good news is that the long-term societal and market forces work against Big Tobacco.
    A pack a day habit in NYC costs about $5K a year, $3,500 or more elsewhere. Unless nicotine addicts become like junkies who steal and kill, the incentive to quit is in place.
    I could get a more expert analysis of this from Prof. Michael Moore of Fuqua, if you know of his whereabouts.

  4. Funny that Phillip Morris’ lead spokesperson’s name for is Nixon. What’s RJ Reynolds guy named? Nicolae Ceauşescu? Augusto Pinochet?

  5. I’m not a Second Amendment fan, Peter, so I really don’t see the need for guns. That said, the tobacco types would tell you they’re no different than distillers of alcohol and are merely satisfying a consumer need. That’s total BS since their product kills. Alcoholism can obviously lead to liver damage and, eventually, death, but it’s not in the same league as tobacco. I’d love to hear Mr. Nixon’s defense of his day job.

  6. When I was young & starting out in the trade magazine business many moons ago, the best-paying jobs were the rags that cover the tobacco industry; few people had the conscience — or lungs — for it. Apparently Mr. Nixon was one of them.
    I’ve heard all kinds of free-market arguments that say that guns, munitions, chemicals and other products also kill people, and thus are no different. To me, the others are used with free will for commerce and defense. Aside from feeding an addictive, often fatal habit and keeping tobacco growers solvent, what purpose does cigarette-making have?