Philip Morris International responded today to assertions made by the World Health Organization (WHO) that the company undermined and improperly influenced the policies and programs of WHO on tobacco control.
"Some company documents that refer to WHO, going back many decades, do not reflect an approach that today we would adopt with WHO," said David Davies, Vice President of the EU Region of Philip Morris International. "They are the product of a polarized and unproductive environment in which few solutions were sought, and conflict prevailed over consensus. Philip Morris regrets this."
"Our goal today is to create a different environment -- one of less rancor where there can be real progress in resolving important issues relating to the regulation of tobacco," Davies said. "Arguments about the past and debate about historical documents are not the way to achieve this goal. Nor will litigation seeking restitution, as advocated by WHO, facilitate constructive discussion and resolve conflict. Rather, litigation only adds to the conflict and rancor."
With regard to the conclusions of WHO, Philip Morris International pointed out that inferences of improper influence are not accurate. Public health messages on smoking by WHO and other organizations have not been altered by Philip Morris, nor were any WHO initiatives prevented or obstructed by any conduct on the part of Philip Morris.
"For nearly 35 years, WHO and related international health organizations have consistently delivered to smokers and non-smokers clear and unequivocal messages and resolutions concerning the serious health consequences of smoking," Davies pointed out. "They have also initiated activities and programs aimed to reduce and even 'eliminate' smoking in nations around the world."
WHO assertions of undue influence are based on selected excerpts from more than 35 million industry documents that have been made publicly available in the US litigation.
"While many of these documents reflect adversarial positions and often confrontational attitudes on both sides, we do not believe that they substantiate a conclusion that Philip Morris obstructed WHO's health messages about tobacco or its tobacco control initiatives," said Davies. He added that, as in any large corporation, as well as large international organizations, dozens of memoranda are written and circulated every day expressing divergent points of view on issues.
Like most major corporations, Philip Morris seeks to make known to governments and international organizations, including WHO, its views and perspectives on public policy matters affecting its business. Today, Philip Morris seeks a constructive dialogue with WHO, critics and others. Through such an approach, the company is trying to secure resolution of differences and solutions to shared concerns about tobacco.
"We believe that today we share many areas of common ground with government regulators, public health authorities and, we hope, the WHO," said Davies. "Although we do not expect to agree with WHO on all issues, we can play a positive role in addressing the public policy and regulatory issues relating to tobacco by working together on issues such as youth smoking prevention, proper warnings, manufacturing regulations, marketing restrictions, and smuggling."
"We recognize that there is an atmosphere of mistrust and confrontation to which we may have contributed," concluded Davies. " But if we move beyond the past, there is a genuine possibility for practical solutions and progress."
PMI is the world’s leading international tobacco company, with six ot the world’s top 15 international brands and products sold in more than 180 markets. In addition to the manufacture and sale of cigarettes, including Marlboro, the number one global cigarette brand, and other tobacco products, PMI is engaged in the developement and commercialization of Reduced-Risk Products (RRPs). RRPs is the term PMI uses to refer to products with the potential to reduce individual risk and population harm in comparison to smoking cigarettes. Through multidisciplinary capabalities in product development, state-of-the-art facilities, and indusrty-leading scientific substantiation, PMI aims to provide an RRP portfolio that meets a broad spectrum of adult smoker preferences and rigorous regulatory requirements.