We would say the Philip Morris Company was comical, but it’s hard to laugh, while throwing up.
A reader recently wrote reminding us of an article (link bottom this page) relating a Philip Morris public relations move of a year ago. This is a classic bit of self-immolation and a worthy reminder of the nature of the enemy. Our regular readers are well aware that smokers have no greater enemies than the American corporate tobacco giants and that their greatest enemy amongst these is the execrable Philip Morris (a.k.a. Altria) Company.
For those who don’t understand here’s an acronymically abbreviated explanation. The American Big Tobacco (BT) companies, in a collective move, attempted to divert all the financial and social costs of anti-tobacco fanaticism (ATF) onto their customers by signing the corrupt Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) in 1998. This formed a profit partnership with greedy government, vastly enriching both the federal government and the individual states, purely at consumers’ expense. The government spends smokers’ money exactly as it pleases with a portion devoted specifically to vilifying those smokers.
Lawyers also got a huge share out of the deal. The industry boosted its profits somewhat but jockeyed more for quasi-monopolistic protections insuring it a substantial market share despite stupendous retail price hikes. It has also hedged its position by diversifying into alternative and less litigation-prone industries such that it is no longer dependent on a sustained tobacco market. Beside PM, the original tobacco industry signatories were R.J. Reynolds (which absorbed co-signatory Brown & Williamson in recent years), Liggett, Lorillard, and Commonwealth Tobacco (recently acquired by Imperial Tobacco of Great Britain.)
This was a stupendously cynical and really an infinitely stupid move on the part of these companies. Yes, as they hoped, the MSA has cost BT customers plenty while assuring BT itself a plentiful if somewhat diminished market share, and the agreement provides considerably limited and altogether squishy protection of BT from lawsuits, but all that is for the short term. The MSA also entails abject appeasement of ATF by BT, which spells total prohibition, i.e. the total extirpation of BT’s tobacco business, before long.
Other American manufacturers of tobacco products, under coercive terms of the MSA, abide to greater and lesser degrees, according to the rigidity of their corporate spines, with its institutionalized corruption. Of course, they too, and smokers most of all, will pay the ultimate price for appeasement of fanaticism, when possession of tobacco becomes a savagely punished crime.
The American tobacco industry is the largest in the world and PM is the largest single tobacco company in the world. The fundamental policy of these internationally influential companies is the single greatest guarantor of anti-tobacco’s Final Solution, to be implemented on a world-wide scale, not just in the US as was the case with alcohol prohibition. Virtual tobacco prohibition now exists in Bhutan and Nigeria with absolute prohibition already promised for New Zealand. Canada will tip within a few years. The trend will not stop until it is forcibly stopped.
Is globally widespread prohibition avoidable? Not without prompt, drastic, well-funded, well-manned, and forcefully effective opposition originating from without the tobacco industry. The industry world-wide is generally ineffectual while its colossal American contingent has essentially become a vast engine of prohibitionist momentum. This is why opponents of prohibition have no greater enemies than the American tobacco giants. Now we shall explain how and why Philip Morris is peculiarly execrable.
The article from last year provides a nice example worth re-examining. The MSA includes harsh restrictions on advertising including proscription of paid placement of tobacco products in motion pictures. The companies all abide by these rules. Here, however, as elsewhere, Philip Morris toadies beyond the pale. Its public relations department has for years now promoted the idea that the manufacture and use of tobacco products is sick, that smokers are sub-human, that Philip Morris itself is sick, and evil, and knows it, and should be stopped: rather like an alcoholic begging for institutionalization.
Bizarre, yes, but this is a fair characterization. Americans are bored silly at this point by an unremitting flood of purely voluntary PM television advertisements begging the public to trust the Surgeon General and obey his commandment to abandon and revile every product PM manufactures. Of course, the immolative self-characterization, and concomitant denigration of PM’s customers, is perfectly in line with the outlook of fanatical prohibitionism. Very simply, Philip Morris has succumbed to the desperately defensive “Stockholm Syndrome”: its public relations department is “doing its job” under the oppressive influence of a corporate mental illness.
Last year’s PR “offensive” on the movie industry is a psychiatric classic to rank with any ever catalogued by Freud. Having stopped inserting its products into Hollywood productions as paid promotions, PM ran a series of ads in motion picture trade publications, begging producers to avoid any incidental mention by characters, or any background image within a frame, of any of its products. Is that sufficiently self-loathing? No! PM further pleaded that the very image and thought of tobacco use generically be censored. Enough then? No, no, please reinforce the message, please save the children, please remember, PM screamed: “Movies should inspire kids to be heroes. Not smokers.”
Of course censorship of sex in old movies did not influence anyone’s real-life enjoyment of sex, and censorship of smoking, or of drinking, or of eating if it comes to that (and it might), will not influence anyone’s real life either, but don’t tell PM that, it’s having a breakdown and will only scream at you. As an amusing sidelight within the article, note that the Entertainment Industries Council, which applauds Philip Morris’s call for censorship denying the existence of a quarter of the population, is described as an agency formed to “promote accurate depictions of health and social issues in films.” Of course, a planet expunged of smokers will be an accurate depiction, when smokers finally allow themselves to be utterly exterminated. Do you wish to allow that? Is that what you’re doing right now? Why don’t you quit?