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Open Letter to PMI from 123 Organizations

September 14, 2017

André Calantzopoulos

Chief Executive Officer

Philip Morris International

Avenue de Rhodanie 50 1007

Lausanne, Switzerland


Dear Mr. Calantzopoulos,

The undersigned organizations, representing global health, human rights, consumer protection, medical and other organizations, call on you to immediately cease the production, marketing and sale of cigarettes. This action is at least half a century overdue, and tens of millions have died unnecessarily as a direct result of tobacco use.

In 1954, Philip Morris promised to “stop business tomorrow” if it became apparent that cigarettes are harmful to health.[1] This promise was repeated for decades, most recently in 1997 by Philip Morris CEO Geoffrey Bible, who responded to the question “What he would do with his manufacturing plants if scientists proved that cigarettes were a cause of cancer?” by saying he would “shut it down instantly.[2]” We know from Philip Morris’ own internal documents that the company was aware that cigarettes were harmful even in 1954; by 1997 Mr. Bible’s response was simply absurd in the face of overwhelming scientific proof.

Cigarettes cannot be “re-engineered” to make them acceptable in global commerce; they are inherently defective. There is no safe level of consumption, and they provide no necessary benefit to their consumers.

Given the deadly nature of tobacco smoke, and the extremely addictive nature of nicotine, the marketing and sale of cigarettes violates several universally accepted human rights, in particular the right to life and the right to health. In May 2017, a human rights organization that had been engaged in voluntary collaboration with PMI, the Danish Institute for Human Rights, ended its relationship with your company and concluded that “According to the UNGPs [United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights] companies should avoid causing or contributing to adverse impacts on human rights. Where such impacts occur, companies should immediately cease the actions that cause or contribute to the impacts. Tobacco is deeply harmful to human health, and there can be no doubt that the production and marketing of tobacco is irreconcilable with the human right to health. For the tobacco industry, the UNGPs [United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights] therefore require the cessation of the production and marketing of tobacco.[3]

The front page of PMI’s own website depicts a video of employees “Designing a Smoke-Free Future.[4]” Your rationale includes “because…society expects us to act responsibly.[5]” If, by your own logic, acting responsibly requires you to stop selling cigarettes, by what ethical rubric can you continue to sell them? The only possible explanation is that you feel you can still profit from doing so. That decision – to continue a business model that you have admitted is irresponsible – is unacceptable. And to continue profiting from a product that you know will kill a significant proportion of your customers when used as intended is monstrous.

PMI, its shareholders, and you personally have been enriched while knowingly killing your customers. You have it in your immediate power to change the fate of millions of people, perhaps hundreds of millions. Do the right thing by immediately ceasing the production, marketing and sale of cigarettes.

Read PMI’s Response (removed from their website in September 2022)



ACT Promoção de Saúde (ACT Health Promotion, from Brazil)

Action on Smoking and Health Foundation (Thailand)

Action on Smoking and Health New Zealand

Action on Smoking and Health (US)

African Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA)

Airspace Action on Smoking and Health

Alliance of Women against Tobacco (Tabinaj) (Bangladesh)

American Cancer Society, Inc.*

American College of Chest Physicians

Americans for Non-Smokers’ Rights*

ASH Finland

ASH Scotland (UK)

Asia-Pacific Heart Network*

Association for the Prevention of Addictions (Bulgaria)*

Association of Medical Students in Bulgaria*

Belgian Foundation Against Cancer

BlueLink Foundation (Bulgaria)*

Breathe Free (Bulgaria)*

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids*

Cancer Aid Society, India

Cancer Society of Finland


Coalición Panameña Contra el Tabaquismo (COPACET)

Coalition Camerounaise Contre le Tabac

College of Global Public Health at New York University

Comité National Contre le Tabagisme

Committee / Unesco University Club for the Fight against Drugs and Other Pandemics (CLUCOD)*

Community Nursing Association

Corporate Accountability International

Danish Cancer Society*

Danish Heart Foundation

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Pneumologie und Beatmungsmedizin e.V.

DNF-Droits des Non-Fumeurs

Dutch Alliance for a Smokefree Society

EHYT Finnish Association for Substance Abuse Prevention

Environmental Rights Action / Friends of the Earth Nigeria

Ethical Shareholders Association Germany

European COPD Coalition (ECC)*

European Network for Smoking and Tobacco Prevention

European Respiratory Society (ERS)

Evidence-based Health Policy Development (EBHPD)

FCTC Implementation and Monitoring Center in Georgia

Finnish Heart Association

Finnish Lung Health Association


German Medical Action Group Smoking or Health

Global Bridges

Global Economic Law Network, Melbourne Law School, The University of Melbourne

Global Network for Tobacco Free Health Services

Green Hand Organization – Lebanon

Healis – Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health

Health and Trade Network

Health Jurists Association

Human Rights and Tobacco Control Network

Indian Cancer Society, Delhi

Institute for Youth Participation, Health and Sustainable Development

InterAmerican Heart Foundation

International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease

INWAT Europe

Israel Cancer Association*

Jamaica Coalition for Tobacco Control

Jeewaka Foundation – Sri Lanka

Jogja Sehat Tanpa Tembakau (JSTT / Tobacco-free Healthy Jogja)*

Lithuanian Tobacco and Alcohol Control Coalition

Madrid Association of Public Health

Mexico Salud-Hable Coalition

National Alliance for Tobacco Control (ALIENTO)

NCD Alliance

New Vois Ass’n. of the Phils. Inc.

No Excuse Slovenia

Noncommunicable Disease (NCD) Roundtable*

Norwegian Cancer Society



Patients’ Organization “With you!” (Bulgaria)*

Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada

Policlinique médicale universitaire CH-Lausanne

`Pratyasha’ Anti-Drug’s Club


Progressive Reinforcement of Organizations and Individuals

Public Health Advocacy Institute at Northeastern University School of Law

Public Health Association of Australia*

Public Health Society of Catalonia and the Balearic Islands

Research and Training Centre for Community Development (RTCCD)

SELBAR – Selangor Bebas Asap Rokok*


Slovenian Coalition for Public Health, Environment and Tobacco Control

Smart International*

Smoke Free Agents

Smoke Free Bulgaria – Civic Iniciative*

Smoke Free Life Coalition Bulgaria

Smoke Free Israel*

Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance

Spanish Primary Care Network

Spanish Society of Environmental Health

Spanish Society of Epidemiology

Spanish Society of Public Health and Health Administration

Swarna Hansa Foundation

Swiss Association for Tobacco Prevention

T&T Consulting Limited

Tanzania Tobacco Control Forum

The Australian Council on Smoking and Health (ACOSH)*

The Austrian Council on Smoking and Health

The French Alliance against Tobacco

The Heart Foundation of Jamaica

The Organisation for Respiratory Health in Finland

Tobacco-free Finland

Tobacco Alcohol Free Initiative, (TAFI), Eldoret, Kenya

Tobacco Free Association of Zambia*

TobaccoFree Research Institute Ireland (TFRI)

Truth Initiative*

UBINIG Policy Research for Development Alternative

Ukrainian NGO Advocacy Center “LIFE”


Union for International Cancer Control (UICC)

Vietnam Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance (NCDs-VN)

Vietnam Public Health Association*

Vision for Alternative Development (Ghana)

Vital Strategies

World Federation of Public Health Associations*


Zambia Consumer Association

Zambia Heart and Stroke Foundation



Cheryl G. Healton, DrPH

Dean, School of Global Public Health at New York University


Gary Fooks

Co-Director, Centre for the Critical Inquiry into Society and Culture, School of Languages and Social Science, Aston University, UK


Gérard Dubois
Membre de l’Académie de Médecine (France)


Ronald Labonté, FCAHS, HonFFPH

Professor and Canada Research Chair (Globalization and Health Equity), School of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Ottawa, Canada


Ruth Malone, RN, PhD, FAAN

Professor and Nursing Alumni/Mary Harms Endowed Chair, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, School of Nursing, University of California, San Francisco; Editor-in-Chief, Tobacco Control


[1] Weissman, George, Philip Morris Inc. Facts versus fancy. 26 February 1954. Bates No. 1002366389-1002366397.

[2] Cerriden M. Tobacco exec stuns observers. Dallas Morning News. 22 August 1997. Bates No. 86329862-86329865.

[3] Danish Institute for Human Rights, Human Rights assessment in Philip Morris International, Web, May 4, 2017. Found at https://www.humanrights.dk/news/human-rights-assessment-philip-morris-international.

[4] Philip Morris International, https://www.pmi.com.

[5] Philip Morris International, https://www.pmi.com/who-we-are/designing-a-smoke-free-future.


[Original list of 95 organizations. *Last updated October 5, 2017 at 12:59 PM Eastern with 28 additional organizations.]