WASHINGTON, Jan. 27, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Tobacco giant Altria has spent huge sums on an advertising campaign to fool policy makers and the public that it is “moving beyond smoking.” But Altria’s earnings report released today shows once again that the company’s actions don’t match its words and Altria’s business remains overwhelmingly to sell deadly and addictive cigarettes. The earnings report reveals that in 2021, Altria shipped 93.8 billion cigarettes and made 88% of its total revenues from cigarettes and other smoked products like cigars. Altria’s cigarettes make up nearly half the U.S. cigarette market, and the company’s Marlboro remains the best-selling cigarette brand by far in the U.S.
This earnings report confirms that Altria’s “moving beyond smoking” campaign is a massive scam and just the latest chapter in a decades-long scheme by tobacco companies to deceive the public and policy makers into thinking they’re helping solve the very problem they created. It’s never been true before and it’s not true now. Rather than moving beyond smoking, Altria’s main business is to promote and perpetuate the use of cigarettes, which are the number one cause of preventable death in the United States and kill nearly half a million Americans every year. Far from being a part of the solution, Altria remains a primary cause of the problem.
As part of its campaign, Altria also claims that it doesn’t market to kids and doesn’t want kids to use its products. Again, the facts show otherwise:
- Altria sells the number one cigarette brand among kids in Marlboro (source: 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health).
- Altria sells the number one cigar brand among kids in Black & Mild (source: 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health).
- Altria owns a 35% stake in Juul, the company most responsible for causing an epidemic of youth e-cigarette use and nicotine addiction.
While claiming to support a “smoke-free future,” Altria fights policies that actually reduce smoking and can help create a smoke-free future. Altria is currently helping fund a referendum to overturn California’s law ending the sale of menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products – a law critical to stopping Altria and other tobacco companies from targeting kids, Black Americans and other groups with these deadly and addictive products. Altria is currently suing the FDA to block the U.S. from implementing graphic cigarette warnings – a best-practice policy to reduce smoking that has been by adopted by over 120 other countries. Altria has also fought significant tobacco tax increases and other effective, evidence-based policies.
In 2006, a federal judge found that Altria and other tobacco companies were racketeers who engaged in a decades-long conspiracy to deceive the American public. Altria’s “moving beyond smoking” campaign (and similar campaigns by Philip Morris International and other tobacco companies) show how little the tobacco industry has changed. To truly reduce tobacco use and save lives, we need strong action by policy makers at all levels, not empty promises from tobacco companies.
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SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids