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Shareholders Demand Philip Morris USA Stop Interfering in Health Policy
Date:5/28/2008

RICHMOND, Va., May 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- At today's Altria (Philip Morris USA) annual meeting, shareholders demanded that the corporation stop lobbying against public health and tobacco control measures. America's largest tobacco corporation is opposing the Smuggled Tobacco Prevention (STOP) Act recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 5689), which contains new and stronger requirements on labeling, tracking and reporting by the tobacco industry.

This is the corporation's first annual meeting since it spun off its international tobacco business in March. PM USA executives are predicting that the split will reverse the revenue and operating profits decline of the last seven years.

"While executives continue to calculate how to build new fortunes for Philip Morris USA, our members continue to demand that the corporation stop promoting addictive, deadly products like Marlboro and Virginia Slims to our kids," said Tom Gaffney, spokesperson for Corporate Accountability International in a statement to Altria Chair and CEO Michael Szymanczyk.

On May 31, Gaffney's organization is joining the World Health Organization's (WHO) "World No Tobacco Day," which urges action to reverse a preventable epidemic that kills 5.4 million people each year. This year's event calls for a ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. Such a ban is one of the provisions of the WHO global tobacco treaty that now binds more than 150 countries.

The Bush Administration signed the global tobacco treaty four years ago, during the last U.S. Presidential election campaign, but has yet to submit it to the Senate for ratification.

"Big Tobacco's political influence is the single greatest obstacle to effective tobacco control policy in the U.S. and around the world," said Gaffney.

Prior to its breakup, in 2006 Philip Morris/Altria had three registered lobbyists in Washington for every five U.S. Senators. In the first quarter of this year, the corporation spent $3 million lobbying on a range of public health, tobacco control and regulatory measures.

For more than 15 years, Corporate Accountability International has pressured Big Tobacco to decrease its influence-peddling on Capitol Hill and stop interfering in life-saving policies. And despite its reluctance to do so, what was once the world's largest and most profitable tobacco corporation has changed its name, broken into three pieces, been subject to Congressional hearings, paid out millions in settlements and closed its New York City headquarters.

Corporate Accountability International, formerly Infact, is a membership organization that protects people by waging and winning campaigns challenging irresponsible and dangerous corporate actions around the world. For over 25 years, we've forced corporations -- like Nestle, General Electric and Philip Morris/Altria -- to stop abusive actions. Corporate Accountability International, an NGO in Official Relations with the World Health Organization (WHO), played a key role in development of the FCTC. For more information visit http://www.StopCorporateAbuse.org.

Contact

Sara Joseph, 617-447-2527, SJoseph@StopCorporateAbuse.org

Nick Guroff, 617-447-2507, NGuroff@StopCorporateAbuse.org


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SOURCE Corporate Accountability International
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