Philip Morris sells death while speaking of ‘smoke-free world’ – opinionACTA
Saying ‘if I wouldn’t sell this deadly product, somebody else will,’ is comparable to what could have been said by IG Farben, the supplier of Zyklon B to the gas chambers.
Philip Morris CEO (Israel) Roi Amit was interviewed on December 31 by The Jerusalem Post. He spoke of a “smoke-free world” but omitted to explain how his company is the biggest seller in the Jewish state of tobacco products – which, according to the Health Ministry, kill some 8000 people annually in Israel, among them many from secondhand smoke, including smoke which penetrates their own apartments from their neighbors’ windows.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), smoking kills about one out of every two people consuming this deadly product, exactly as intended and foreseen by the manufacturer. This is exactly what requires the intervention of criminal law, which defines “homicide” as causation of death with prior knowledge. Further, the WHO has determined that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. It kills.
Accordingly, cigarettes – which the CEO calls “combustible,” including his company’s brands like Marlboro – are responsible for a major share of this enormous number of deaths. And they are now being sold by the same conglomerate.
The CEO’s simultaneous call for a smoke-free world while selling deadly and addictive cigarettes is no more persuasive than Tweedledee’s verses in “The Walrus and the Carpenter” in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, when they shed tears over the demise of the poor oysters, which they themselves had just eaten:
“‘O Oysters, come and walk with us!’
The Walrus did beseech.
‘A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each.’”
Yet the idea was to eat the poor oysters:
“I weep for you,’ the Walrus said:
‘I deeply sympathize.’
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.”
Before a CEO of a tobacco company “deeply sympathizes” and shouts that his desire is a smoke-free world, he should first answer how his conglomerate is going to compensate the Israeli healthcare system, which suffers expenditures of many billions of shekels every year due to smoking of these highly addictive products, and for the additional future damage that we all shall bear in the next decades due to those cigarettes which it keeps selling while he is interviewed.
The CEO gives no explanation of how to reconcile between these two. If the answer would be ‘if I wouldn’t sell this deadly product, somebody else will,’ then this argument, occasionally given by tobacco dealers, is comparable to what could have been said by IG Farben, the supplier of Zyklon B to the gas chambers.
Regarding the CEO’s claim that the other tobacco product he glorifies are allegedly “a less harmful option” – this is absolutely NOT what the FDA said. The FDA only said that its use exposes the users to a lower LEVEL of dangerous substances, not that it is less dangerous, which the FDA unequivocally determined the company did not succeed to prove. And all this from a company that for decades sold “low tar” or “light” cigarettes, which we now know are just as lethal.
It is not merely a bitter taste which is left after reading the interview: it is the absolute denial of liability and responsibility for past and, most importantly, current activities of the same conglomerate.
Amos Hausner is chairman of the Israel Council for the Prevention of Smoking. Dr. Yael Bar Zeev, is an MD, MPH, PhD at the Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem -Hadassah Medical Center and CEO of the Israel Medical Association Company for Smoking Prevention and Cessation.