Open letter to PMI CEO

20 May 2012


As shareholders gathered to celebrate the corporations’ financial “successes,” this year was an opportunity for us to distract from PMI’s profit margins and focus attention on the fact that the corporation’s profits are based on a platform of manipulative tactics – like undermining public health policies and aggressive “intimidation by litigation” of countries around the world looking to implement FCTC-sanctioned tobacco control measures that save lives.

For those of you who signed onto the Open Letter to PMI, thank you for lending your support and strength to our team as we represented all of you (more than 250 organizations from more than 75 countries) in the meeting.

I’ve pasted below an article from the Financial Times highlighting the letter. I recommend that those monitoring the tobacco industry’s activities listen to the webcast to get a better sense of how PMI is responding to taxation measures, the Uruguay and Australia cases, and illicit trade. 

We were bringing attention to its abuses in advance of World No Tobacco Day this year, where the WHO is taking a bold stance against Big Tobacco’s abuses by making the theme “Intimidation: Stop Tobacco Industry Interference.” In order to do this we: 

1.     Released an Open Letter from more than 250 public health organizations, dozens of health ministries, public health professionals, and allies all over the world calling on PMI to butt out of policymaking and stop its aggressive litigation. For a copy of the press release, the letter and the list of signers, and our statements click here:

2.     Raised the visibility of PMI’s abuses by generating media coverage. This year, we brought a reporter from ABC’s Nightline News, a popular national news program here in the US, into the meeting with us via proxy who interviewed our team outside the meeting, shot video of our outside action, and asked a hard-hitting statement on the floor about PMI’s abuses in Indonesia. The TV program will be featuring the story sometime this evening. We’ll keep you posted. The story was a follow-up to this 20/20 story about Indonesia.

3.     Read hard-hitting statements on the floor of the meeting – Our team called attention to PMI’s abuses – from reading off the list of health ministries who signed onto the Open Letter to PMI’s complicity in illicit trade to exposing its “corporate social responsibility” schemes as nothing more than subversive marketing to leveraging trade ministries to challenge Australia’s plain packaging laws. 

4.     Lastly, we organized youth to hold an action outside the meeting where we distributed flyers (see attached) and asked people to take photo petitions with signs that say “Stop Industry Interference,” to call attention to World No Tobacco Day’s theme this year and global efforts to Challenge Big Tobacco. 

Overall, we were a strong presence at the meeting, and send a clear message to PMI that we will continue to challenge Big Tobacco until they butt out of public health, clearing the way for broad implementation of the global tobacco treaty, which will save 200 million lives if fully implemented. 

Thank you again for those who supported our action yesterday. We felt your strength and courage, and we communicated forcefully that the global community is resolved to stand up to PMI’s intimidation.


John Stewart (Corporate Accountability Internationa)

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