Company Lies Not Worth A Puff Of Smoke


Warning: Cigarette companies habitually lie about manufacturing products that are hazardous to your health.

This week, another company lie went up in smoke. Philip Morris, the nation's largest tobacco company, grudgingly admitted that smoking -- much like lying to protect profits -- is addictive.

The company's new-found honesty is both self-serving and insulting. The firm's admission, which was posted on the company's Web site, is a calculated move to fend off lawsuits and whitewash the cancer-causing, teenager-addicting tobacco stains that tarnish the company's image.

My, oh my, but a few dozen lawsuits and billions of dollars in damages certainly have changed Philip Morris' tune. Just five years ago, company officials steadfastly swore before Congress that cigarette smoking is not addictive.

Oh, brother.

Now Philip Morris, which has embarked on a $100-million campaign to breathe new life into the company's black-lung image, wants us to believe that it's doing everything it can to warn consumers about the risks of smoking.

It's doing everything but cooperating with the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco, an addictive substance by the company's own admission, as an addictive drug. Philip Morris is in the midst of a three-year court battle to stop the federal government from regulating tobacco through marketing restrictions.

And it's doing everything but placing labels on cigarette packs that warn consumers that "Smoking is addictive." Earlier this year, when Philip Morris bought Liggett Group, the only tobacco company in the nation to provide such a warning, Philip Morris removed the labels. There was no profit in them.

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