I guess you’ve got to admire Big Tobacco for trying to do more to get smokers to quit. Philip Morris is now promoting a program called QuitAssist (see the news release). States the release:
“Taking steps to help smokers who have decided to quit is one of the ways we are working to reduce the harm associated with our products,” said Howard A. Willard, Philip Morris USA executive vice president, corporate responsibility. “As a manufacturer of a product that is addictive and causes serious diseases, like cancer and heart disease, we believe we have a role to play in communicating to smokers about the serious health effects of our products and resources that can help smokers quit.”
Yes, I suppose this program could help. Or maybe, if the anti-smoking cause were really important to Philip Morris, it could shut down operations altogether?
I don’t blame Philip Morris. Corporations, including tobacco companies, are in business to sell product and make money. As long as they have the legal right to do that, that’s what they should do. They won’t make money if everyone QUITS –so QuitAssist is clearly not in their interests, is it? BUT, if they seem insensitive to the health problems, they look like louts, which could cause more lawsuits, legislation, and the like.
It’s a fascinating story, this tobacco war in the United States — a war that’s been going on for more than 100 years now, if you can believe that.
Because of the central role that public relations has played in this war, on both sides, I highly recommend Richard Kluger’s Ashes to Ashes for the comprehensive narrative on this truly American saga.