From the WSJ today: “Altria Group Inc. is likely to announce a spinoff of its Philip Morris International tobacco arm after a board meeting Wednesday. That would create a new company, unfettered by legal and public relations problems in the U.S., to blanket overseas markets aggressively.”
“Overseas growth [+15.9% in Asia, for example] contrasts with Philip Morris USA’s volume, which shrank 3.3% in the latest quarter from a year earlier. For all of 2006, Philip Morris International had revenue of $48.26 billion, compared with $18.47 billion at Philip Morris USA.”
This is $66.73 BILLION earned entirely and unambiguously from the sale of a known addictive and lethal product. Compare this with the fact that those of us who choose not to smoke – in the US alone – pay a $172 BILLION economic penalty each year ($75 billion in direct medical costs, $92 billion in lost productivity). Yet some academic medical centers feel no conflict of interest in accepting research awards and enthusiastic partnerships (also see page 8 or RTD excerpt) funded by the sale of said addictive and lethal and economically draining products. Roy Poses sums it up well: “Cloaking research meant to market more cigarettes in academic respectability could be very bad for health care.”
Indeed, as so clearly illustrated by the secret and unethical research services agreement between Virginia Commonwealth University and Philip Morris.