[Virginia GASP]       2005 Philip Morris/Altria shareholder meeting

    The 2005 Altria meeting was held in New Jersey, USA, on Thursday, April 28th, 2005 at the Nabisco/Kraft plant in East Hanover, New Jersey, in smoke-free surroundings.
This page will be updated over the next few weeks to include further information.

Overview of meeting
Web Cast covered only CEO's remarks, not resolutions nor Questions and Answers.

Questions and Answers
Resolutions presented
Questions of the Auditors
Comment on PM's remarks regarding smoking and secondhand smoking on their web sites
Excerpts from media articles

OVERVIEW of the 2005 ALTRIA meeting, also known as Philip Morris (PM).
The 2005 meeting, like the one in 2004, was held not at the Richmond, Virginia cigarette manufacturing plant, but at the Nabisco/Kraft plant in East Hanover, New Jersey.  The plant sits up on a hill, like a fortress, with guards stationed at every turn in the road to ensure that you are really allowed to be there, and to direct you further along the road.  A green lawn rises from the roads to the fortress.

As one approached the intersection to the road leading to the plant,  students from around the world  were  holding signs and chanting  pro-health statements.   A 15 foot high inflated "Marlboro" pack labeled "50 Years of Death" and an inflated "Deathday" cake were also visible.

At the meeting site, one was greeted with security -- not as tight perhaps as the armed camp presented at the Richmond, VA manufacturing plant, but more security than seen at many corporate meetings.  No briefcases, cell phones, cameras, or multiple copies of anything are allowed to pass into the meeting area.

Some of the activists were met with guards who stayed with them even when a visit to the restroom was needed.  Seats inside the auditorium were marked RESERVED for some of the activists.

One advantage of the New Jersey meeting place is that the place is smoke-free.  In Virginia, the company eventually provided a second auditorium where smoking was not allowed.

Some of the points noted by Mr. Camilleri are given below.  Quotations are as accurate as possible:
Camilleri offensively denied the testimony of Tosin Orogun, from Nigeria, about using teenagers to recruit other teenagers and adults to smoke.  "You mustn't let your animosity blind your judgment," he said, and referring to Philip Morris, he said, "We're a pygmy in Nigeria compared to other companies."  Camilleri added that Nigerians should be happy that Philip Morris was coming to Nigeria because it was more regulated than the tobacco already in Nigeria.  Camilleri said, "To stop selling cigarettes in Africa would be a cop out.  It wouldn't make a difference, and we're more corporately responsible than other tobacco companies."

Camilleri denied that PM has had anything to do with product placement of Marlboro in Bollywood films in India.

Camilleri defended advertising an addictive and lethal product:  "If we can't advertise, then we can't give information to consumers about the new harm reduction cigarettes Philip Morris is producing."

Camilleri said several times, "There is no such thing as a safe cigarette."

Camilleri said, "There is no such thing as a fire-safe cigarette."  The company terms them "reduced ignition propensity cigarettes."

Camilleri said, "Places that increase cigarette taxes force consumers to use unhealthy, unregulated cigarettes."

Camilleri said, "We support tobacco regulation."

In defending expansion into other countries, Camilleri said: 
"Shareholders should be happy that Philip Morris is expanding into third world countries because Philip Morris partners with ministries of health, and we do more about tobacco education than other tobacco companies would do."

"Don't try to portray us as somewhat Machiavellian."

The meeting was called to order at 9:00 am EDT.

Business Presentation

       Although Philip Morris [PM] notified the press that PM would do a web cast of the meeting, it covered only the business portion of the meeting.  While other corporations do a web cast of the ENTIRE meeting, PM apparently was afraid to present the interaction between the CEO and those who present resolutions and ask questions.
     Indeed, when nurse Ruth Malone asked them that very question at the shareholder meeting, she received no answer from CEO Louis Camilleri.

Questions and Comments Session -- 40 minutes were provided for this session
2 minutes is the limit for the question time.  The comment/answer has no limit.

Numerous activists lined up to ask questions, but time ran out before the questions ended.
Activists included the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility represented by the Rev. Michael Crosby, Sister Mary Anne Rattigan, Edward L. Sweda, Jr., Dr. Alan Blum, and Anne Morrow Donley.

Registered Nurses 
Approximately 14 registered nurses from the Nightingales organization, all wearing white jackets with black armbands, had questions, with some asking questions at this time, and others speaking in support of the resolutions.
Amada Apacible, California
Sharon Brown, Pennsylvania
Julia Buss, California
Lisa Greathouse, Kentucky
Diana Hackbarth, Illinois
Ruth Malone, California
Mary Jo Schymeinsky, California
Carol Southard, Illinois
Donna Tassos, West Virginia
Sandra Toner, Missouri
Marcia Wertz, California
Elizabeth Wilson, New Jersey
Thom Schwartz, American Journal of Nursing

Several young people from Nigeria, India, Indonesia, and the USA asked questions.  Many of them were able to attend the meeting thanks to Essential Action , Youth Leadership Institute (California), REAL (Hawaii), Reality Check (New York), and FACT (Wisconsin).  A New Jersey group, REBEL, was also present.

Corporate Responsibility, formerly INFACT, had representatives present.

A sampling of questions and comments is given below.

Question by Dr. Tjandra Yoga Aditama, Indonesian Smoking Control Foundation, Jakarta, Indonesia
Indonesia is facing a dual health problem:  Infectious diseases are still prevalent; and degenerative diseases are increasing – largely due to smoking.

Smoking is already a major public health problem in Indonesia, where approximately 60 percent of Indonesian men smoke. Most smokers use kretek cigarettes, which have very high tar and nicotine content, and also include as ingredients other sauces which may damage health.

In taking over Sampoerna (one of the biggest kretek companies in Indonesia), and entering my country, Philip Morris will only worsen this already serious situation.

Philip Morris is an international company with long experience in tobacco marketing around the world. Philip Morris’ purpose in taking over Sampoerna is to increase its profits. That means you will do whatever you can to operate the Sampoerna kretek business more intensively and increase sales. The company is sure to use all of its marketing experience to sell kreteks to the 70 percent of Indonesians who are not already smokers -- mostly women, young adults and children.

Indonesia has quite weak tobacco control policy, and we fear that Philip Morris is planning on exploiting this environment. We worry that the company will lobby to further weaken tobacco controls in Indonesia.

Mr. Camilleri, I believe you are aware of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and how it is being implemented around the world. Even though Indonesia has not signed the FCTC, I am asking you: Will Philip Morris enter into a binding agreement with our government, committing the company to abide by the provisions of the FCTC – as you must in other countries -- including its call for:
        large, rotating pictorial warning labels;
        a ban on the use of the misleading terms "light" and "mild;" and
        a prohibition on all tobacco product marketing and advertising?

The health of Indonesians must not be sacrificed for Philip Morris’ profits.

Comment from Mr. Camilleri:
He essentially noted that Indonesians should be happy that Philip Morris was coming into Indonesia.

Question by Isha Gupta, 16, a member of HRIDAY-SHAN (Health Related Information Dissemination Amongst Youth -- Student Health Action Network), India

India is a signatory to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) under the auspices of the World Health Organization. The Indian Parliament passed the Indian Tobacco Control Act which came into force in May 2004. The main provisions of the Act are:
  1. Prohibition of smoking in public places.
  2. Prohibition of advertisements, sponsorship and promotion of tobacco products.
  3. Prohibition of sale of tobacco products to minors.

Despite this, tobacco and gutka (chewing tobacco) manufacturing companies skirt the ban by either resorting to surrogate advertising or by strategic product placement in Bollywood movies.  India’s film industry is the largest in the world with a target audience of 15 million people per day. 76% of these movies portray tobacco consumption reflecting a perfect marriage for the two industries. Producers need money and tobacco companies need avenues to market their products.  And what better models than the film stars themselves?! I would like to draw the attention of all specifically to an aggressive Marlboro product placement in two latest Hindi movies, “Swades” and “Lucky.” Marlboro has been prominently placed at least 2-4 times in each movie with cameras focusing on the cigarette box. “Swades”, meaning “We, the People” revolves around the life of an Indian working at NASA in the United States who comes back to his country and mobilizes the people of his village to improve their lives.  All through the movies I couldn’t figure out why Marlboro, which destroys lives, was featured prominently in it.

I would like to know, Mr. Camilleri, what role did Philip Morris, through any of its domestic or international divisions, play in getting Marlboro featured in these popular Bollywood movies?

Comment by Mr. Camilleri:

He said that there is no product placement by Philip Morris, and they do not pay any money to have product placement in movies anywhere.

Question by Tosin Orogun, Youth Program Coordinator of Journalists Action on Tobacco & Health (JATH), Nigeria

My country, Nigeria, is considered a developing country, which means we are faced with the challenges of poor facilities and in some cases, none at all, with 60% of over 140 million people, living below the poverty line. Over 40% of the population is under age 15, and these young people are vulnerable because they believe everything they see and hear, and accept all that comes from America, without questions.

For us, the entry of Philip Morris into the Nigerian Market is particularly alarming because we have watched their activities in other countries and we know that because Nigeria is such a big market, they will stop at nothing to get all the youths into smoking.

We were right about Philip Morris! One of the most outrageous promotional tactics they have is to recruit teenage girls to promote the Marlboro brand. These girls are dressed in red Marlboro tops with black pants, and they visit retail shops along the street to promote the brand. We think this is criminal, because it goes beyond the targeting the young people, it is about using the teens as agents of the killer product!

The implication of this to us is that more Nigerian teenagers are going to light up the cigarette for the first time and become addicted simply because of the sentiment that it is American.

I would like to ask: How do you think Philip Morris coming to Nigeria will benefit my people who are already poor and lack basic facilities? Do you think that all the perceived economic benefits you like to talk about can ever substitute for the lives of the Nigerian youths and coming generations?

    Comment by Mr. Camilleri
Mr. Camilleri was especially offensive and denied everything Tosin Orogun had said, demanding that he should present proof of this to Philip Morris if it were happening.  "You mustn't let your animosity blind your judgment," he said, and referring to Philip Morris, he said, "We're a pygmy in Nigeria compared to other companies."  Camilleri added that Nigerians should be happy that Philip Morris was coming to Nigeria because it was more regulated than the tobacco already in Nigeria.  Camilleri said "To stop selling cigarettes in Africa would be a cop out.  It wouldn't make a difference, and we're more corporately responsible than other tobacco companies."

Question by Anna White

Good morning, Mr. Camilleri. My name is Anna White. I am the coordinator of Essential Action’s Global Partnerships for Tobacco Control program in which groups in over 40 U.S. states and 100 countries are involved, including many represented here today.

As you announced earlier, Marlboro is celebrating its 50th anniversary.  2005 is also the 50th anniversary of Philip Morris's international expansion.  So where has the company and Marlboro come in the 50 years?  Philip Morris is the largest multinational tobacco company in the world, and Marlboro is the #1 cigarette sold, by a wide margin.  It is also the brand most popular with youth.

What are the consequences of 50 years of global expansion and aggressive marketing techniques? This year tobacco will kill 5 million people around the world. That’s a big number. To put it in perspective, it is 23 times the number of people killed in the recent tragic tsunami in South Asia.  By 2025, that number will double to 10 million, 70% in developing countries.  Marlboro will be responsible for a significant number of these deaths.

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Marlboro is sending packs of playing cards to smokers (and former smokers) on their birthdays. [Showed and read example of promotion: “Here’s to a full year of action. Happy Birthday from your friends at Marlboro.”  See http://www.essentialaction.org/tobacco/event/altria05/worldtour/

Outside, we are celebrating the 50th anniversary more appropriately, with black balloons, a Happy 50th Deathday cake, and a 15 foot high Marlboro pack labeled 50 Years of Death.  As part of the macabre celebration, we have brought you a 50th Deathday card.  It is blank inside, to represent all your addicted customers who are not alive today to celebrate with you.

My question to you, Mr. Camilleri is: your company talks a lot about individual responsibility, but what about the responsibility of your company not to market a product that kills people if used as intended?  When are you going to stop promoting death around the world?

Comment by Mr. Camilleri
Denial.  Camilleri said that shareholders should be happy that Philip Morris is expanding into third world countries, because Philip Morris partners with ministries of health, and Philip Morris does more with tobacco education than other tobacco companies do.
[Following response, Anna White tried to deliver card to CEO, but was stopped by a security guard. At the conclusion of the meeting, youth tried to deliver Happy 50th Deathday cards to the Board of Directors; some accepted the cards, some did not.]

Question asked by Edward L. Sweda, Jr.
Good morning, Mr. Camilleri.  I am Edward L. Sweda, a shareholder from Massachusetts.

On November 4, 2004, you spoke at the Morgan Stanley Global Consumer Conference at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City.  At that conference, you stated the following,
"[W]e were pleased that the United States Supreme Court entered a stay of the enforcement of the judgment, in the Henley case, while PM USA finalizes its application asking the court to hear its appeal.  Important constitutional issues are presented by the appeal, and we believe the judgment should be reversed." 
The Henley case was one of the reasons you gave for your conclusion that the trend in tobacco litigation "will continue to improve."

On March 21, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider Philip Morris's appeal in the Henley case.  It refused to consider the supposedly important constitutional issues presented by the Philip Morris appeal.  The result is that Philip Morris had to pay $10.5 million, plus interest, to Ms. Henley.  No longer can you or any other Philip Morris executive say that the company has never made a payment, including for punitive damages, to an individual in a smoking-and-health lawsuit.

A major part of my work with the Tobacco Products Liability Project is to track tobacco litigation across the country.  I did not find the Henley case to be inherently different from many other cases that Philip Morris is currently facing.

My question is:
What is so unique to the Henley case, where Philip Morris has now been forced to make a multi-million dollar payment, that could possibly justify a company policy of refusing to set up a reserve fund to pay future adverse judgments?

Election of Directors
2005 Performance Incentive Plan
2005 Stock Compensation Plan for Non-Employee Directors

Ratification of the Selection of Independent Auditors

Question for the Auditors, from Anne Morrow Donley, Virginia
What provisions have been made regarding the issue of personal liability, insurance, special funds for legal defense against suits, such as the one brought in Israel in which the CEOs are made liable for the actions of the companies?

Suppose Mr. Camilleri, and Mr. Bible, and others were indicted, what provisions have been made for the funds to cover their defense and protect the shareholders' investments?
Response from Mr. Camilleri
His comment was essentially that:  this is unlikely, but if necessary, we have funds prepared.

Question for the Auditors, from the Rev. Michael Crosby
His question concerned the fact that a large percentage of Philip Morris funds are connected with leases of airlines.  One of the board members is connected with airlines.  What provisions were being made in the event of losses due to this.
Response from Mr. Camilleri
        It would be taken care of.

Stockholder Proposals 1, 2, 3, 4
Shareholder resolutions must go through a rigorous regulated process, and must go before the Security and Exchange Commission of the USA before final approval allows them to be printed up in the corporation literature and presented to the shareholders for voting.

Philip Morris opposed all four proposals.  Most votes are cast before the meeting.
The person presenting the resolution for the proponent has 4 (four) minutes to make the presentation.
All others supporting or opposing the resolution have 2 (two) minutes to speak.

Normally, Mr. Camilleri does not comment on the proposals, and so stated at the beginning of this session.  However, he made several exceptions to his policy at this meeting.

RESOLUTIONS presented:

EXCERPTS from the 2005 shareholder resolutions presented are as follows:
Proposal 1 -- Eliminate animal testing for tobacco products
"RESOLVED:  that the shareholders request that the Board commit to eliminating all further use of animals in testing of tobacco, tobacco derivatives, and tobacco-related products."

PM opposed this; PM's response:  "There is an overwhelming medical and scientific consensus that cigarette smoking causes serious diseases, like lung cancer, emphysema, and heart disease, in smokers.  Because of this, PM USA and PMI [PM International] are researching ways to reduce the health risks of cigarettes.  In addition, PM USA and PMI conduct assessments using established non-clinical testing methods to understand the impact that product changes or designs may have on the inherent toxicity of smoke."

        People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals testified in favor of their proposal.

Proposal 2 -- Philip Morris to find ways to more adequately warn pregnant women

"RESOLVED:  that, just as retailers ask children their age, stockholders request that Philip Morris USA work to create a program to keep pregnant women from being sold our cigarettes.  We suggest this include ways retailers can ask them if they are pregnant (honoring their right to legitimate privacy) as well as penalties for merchants failing to comply with the program.  To ensure shareholders our products are not jeopardizing the lives of innocent victims, we ask that management report to shareholders withing six months of this annual meeting the program and its mode of operation and evaluation."

PM opposed this; PM's response:  "PM USA and PMI strongly support legislative and regulatory measures governing the content of cigarette health warning messages [labeling required by law on packages], including those designed to continue reminding pregnant women about the dangers -- to themselves as well as to their babies before and after birth -- of smoking. .. The websites of PM USA and PMI also continue to offer extensive resources and information from public health authorities and others on quitting smoking."

Sister Mary Anne Rattigan presented the proposal.
She noted that women in poverty and in many nations do not have access to the web site information, and need to have more provisions made to prevent their smoking in order to protect both them and the fetus.  Healthier women would lead to healthier babies which would lead to a healthier society.

Anne Morrow Donley spoke in support of this proposal.
A recent study revealed that women who want to become pregnant through in vitro fertilization dramatically reduce their chances of success if they are smokers -- they add 10 years to their reproductive age.

Studies reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that pregnant smokers:
increase the risk of the child getting cancer later in life
increase the genetic alteration risk in the fetus
and can cause lower IQs and more behavioral problems in the child.

Many women who smoke, such as a dear friend of mine who died last year, are unable to quit smoking because the addiction is so strong.

Secondhand smoke has been shown to hurt not only the pregnant woman but also the fetus.

Women who smoke when they are pregnant will probably smoke around the infant, which can cause severe viral infections, asthma, and other serious problems.

Breast cancer has been linked to secondhand smoking in women of child bearing age.

So you should be doing more to prevent people from smoking around pregnant women and women of child bearing age, as well as preventing pregnant women from buying your cigarettes.

The Rev. Michael Crosby spoke to the proposal.
He noted that there should be discussions on this with considerations given to those looking at the rights of pregnant women and the fetus to determine how to help pregnant women and not violate privacy rights.

Dr. Alan Blum spoke to the proposal.
He stated that there was indeed more that Philip Morris could do, and suggested that Philip Morris could give to retailers a sign reading, If you are pregnant, we don't want your business.

Proposal 3 -- Cease promoting "light" and "ultralight" brands

"RESOLVED:  that Philip Morris Companies, Inc. stop all advertising, marketing and sale of cigarettes using descriptors such as 'light,' 'ultralight,' and 'mild' and similar words and/or colors and images until shareholders can be assured through independent research that 'light' and 'ultralight' brands actually do reduce the risk of smoking-related diseases, including cancer and heart disease."

PM opposed this; PM's response:  "PM USA and PMI believe that cigarette manufacturers should continue to be permitted to use descriptors such as 'low-tar,' 'mild,' and 'light,' in a truthful and non-misleading manner, to describe brand styles ...."

Dr. Alan Blum presented this proposal.
He noted that it was distressing to face patients who thought they were safe smoking light cigarettes.  He noted there is no evidence that light and mild cigarettes are less hazardous than other cigarettes.

Statement of Edward L. Sweda, Jr., supporting this proposal:
The Annual Report on page 37 mentions the company's outstanding liability in the Price case, including a $10.1 billion verdict.  There was also an important development since last year's Annual Meeting in a light cigarette case in Massachusetts.  In that case -- the Aspinall case -- the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in August 2004 issued the first ruling by a state supreme court upholding the certification of the plaintiff class in a light cigarette lawsuit.

There are currently 22 light cigarette cases against the company in 18 states.

The Aspinall ruling has already had an impact on cases in other parts of the country.  In the Curtis case in Minnesota, a judge had issued an order in January 2004 decertifying the plaintiff class.  However, after having read the Massachusetts ruling, the judge reversed himself and ruled in November 2004 that the plaintiff class be certified.

Judge Allen Oleisky concluded that "a class action is not only an appropriate method to resolve the plaintiffs' allegations, but pragmatically, the only method whereby purchasers of Marlboro Light in Minnesota can seek redress for the alleged deception."

I am sure that the audience has noticed, Mr. Camilleri, that you did not answer the specific question as to what is so unique about the Henley case, where Philip Morris has had to make a multi-million dollar payment to Ms. Henley, that could possibly justify a policy of not establishing a reserve fund for adverse judgments.  You mentioned just moments ago that the company has established such a fund regarding airline leases.

I urge support for Shareholder proposal #3.

Statements in support were given by several nurses noting in poignant terms the deaths of patients and family members who died from smoking.

Proposal 4 -- Extend New York fire-safe products nationally

"On June 28, 2004, a New York state law compelled major tobacco companies to replace their cigarettes with new 'fire-safe' versions designed to extinguish themselves more quickly than conventional cigarettes. ...
RESOLVED:  that stockholders request that the Altria Board commit the Company withing six months of the annual meeting to voluntarily establish New York's cigarette fire safety regulatory criteria as the standard for all the cigarettes that are produced for sale in the United States, Puerto Rico, and all U.S. protectorates."

PM opposed this; PM's response:  "PM USA agrees that steps should be taken to reduce the number of fires caused by carelessly handled cigarettes.  ... Pursuant to these [New York state's] regulations, PM USA uses patented banded cigarette paper that has rings of ultra-thin paper applied on top of traditional cigarette paper during the paper-making process on all cigarettes made for sale in New York State.  ... "

The Rev. Michael Crosby, Capuchin Franciscan, presented this proposal.
The Rev. Crosby began by noting that Mr. Camilleri had not answered an earlier question.  He was speaking when Mr. Camilleri interrupted him and tersely said "You are here to address the resolution."  The Rev. Crosby said, "I have 4 minutes in which to present my remarks.  I am setting the scene.  I did not interrupt you."  There was a long moment of silence as they stared at each other.  Then the Rev. Crosby continued with his remarks to set the scene and support the proposal for self-extinguishing cigarettes.

Anne Morrow Donley supported this proposal.
In the shareholder proposal booklet on page 53 you state, "PM USA agrees that steps should be taken to reduce the number of fires caused by carelessly handled cigarettes."

This very cruelly places blame on the victim, and not on you, the manufacturer.  How, pray tell, do you carefully handle cigarettes that continue to burn even when not being puffed?

You say you will wait until there is a federal standard before making firesafe cigarettes for all states.  This is like being in the midst of a cholera epidemic and saying you will wait to provide clean wells and water until the time when there is a law mandating it.

You claim to be a responsible company, and you claim to be trying to make a so-called "safe" cigarette.  You should err on the side of the safety of your consumers and everyone around them.  Please support this resolution.

Regina Carlson, New Jersey GASP, spoke in support of this proposal.
She noted that in New Jersey there had been three dormitory fires at local universities and colleges started by cigarettes.  "The students went to bed worrying about their final exams, only to awaken to problems far worse than exams."  She urged support of the proposal to protect "all the innocent people."

  Sharon Brown, R.N., spoke in support of this proposal.

She noted that originally cigarettes burned out when not being puffed, but later the cigarettes were designed to continue burning all the time.
She said that one of her first patients was a 7 year old boy who was a victim of a fire started by someone smoking.  He was burned over much of his body.  She described how the boy suffered, and screamed and screamed as they tried to treat him.  She asked Camilleri why the company could not protect all the innocent victims by making reduced ignition propensity cigarettes for all places, not just New York state.  She said you can do this, so why don't you?

A man spoke in support of the resolution. 
He noted that there were many contradictions in the language of the annual report, the shareholder proposal booklet, and the statements by Mr. Camilleri.  On the one hand, saying that there is no safe cigarette, but that they are still making it; that people can quit, but that it is addictive; and so on.  He said that it was only reasonable that they should make cigarettes that did not continue to burn when not being smoked.

Mr. Camilleri stated that there is no such thing as a "fire-safe" cigarette, only reduced ignition propensity cigarettes.

Concluding Remarks
During this time, Mr. Camilleri usually speaks against a backdrop of ever changing slides regarding the contributions of PM employees and PM itself towards victims of domestic violence, meals on wheels, disaster relief, etc.

This time, however, there was an immediate contrast of the glowing words with the reality of the corporation's actions.  Students sitting near the front of the audience silently stood, wearing long draped black mourning veils with a white skull painted on the front.  Mr. Camilleri continued his monologue, and finally said, "Will you please sit down!  You are blocking the view of others behind you!"  Some of them sat down, but two people moved to the aisle, and stood there silently through the rest of Camilleri's monologue, and through the report on the vote of the proposals and the adjournment of the meeting.

Report of the Inspectors of Election

    Proposal 1, ethical treatment animals, 2.5% voting for this
    Proposal 2, pregnant women,  3 % voted for this
    Proposal 3, light cigarettes, 4.2% voting for this
    Proposal 4, fire-safe cigarettes, 4.9% voting for this


    This is the second year at the New Jersey Kraft plant.  Former meetings were held in Richmond, Virginia, USA, at a PM cigarette manufacturing plant site.  Speculations as to why PM moved the site of the meeting have included: 
(1) to discourage media participation thereby focusing all media attention only on the glowing reports issued by the corporation,
(2) to discourage activist participation,
(3) to provide more security, and
(4) to remove cigarette employee unions and their complaints and protests from the meeting.

MEDIA ARTICLES on the 2005 shareholder meeting, New Jersey

 EXCERPTS from The Record, Bergen County, New Jersey,
headlined, "Dogged by the past,"
writer, Hugh R. Morley
Altria Group Inc. sought to look to the future ..., but couldn't escape the past.

As executives of the former Philip Morris discussed a possible company breakup, a 15-foot-high inflatable Marlboro pack erected by anti-smoking protesters stood outside the annual meeting at Kraft Foods Inc.'s sweeping East Hanover campus.

On the front of the pack a sign read "50 years of death," to mark the brand's 50th anniversary this year. At the company gate, about two dozen New York State high school students waved banners and chanted "People, not death."

Anti-smoking activists pushed three shareholder proposals at the meeting, including one to stop the company promoting "light" and "ultra light" cigarette brands and another for better warning of smoking dangers in pregnant women. All were soundly defeated.

"We need more proactive actions to inform pregnant women," said Sister Mary Anne Rattigan, a shareholder activist and assistant general superior of the Sisters of Charity in Convent Station [NJ]. "The benefit to our company will be a higher moral conduct. ... The benefit to babies will be a healthier start to life."

But CEO Louis C. Camilleri focused mostly on the company's progress. He said Altria could soon be broken into two or three pieces, a plan a company representative said was first discussed in 2003.

The New York-based company - which includes Kraft, Philip Morris USA and Philip Morris International - reported 2004 revenues of $23.6 billion, 8.7 percent up from last year, and an 18.3 percent increase in earnings, to $2.6 billion. Tobacco business contributed about 69 percent of the company's operating income in 2004. Company shares fell 37 cents to $64.47 Thursday.

Camilleri noted that in 2004 Altria began offering information packs for smokers who want to quit.

The company also enhanced its Internet resources and other literature for Hispanics and "continues to work proactively to help prevent youth smoking" with retail programs designed to discourage smoking, he said.

"It's very simple," Camilleri replied to one shareholder comment. "There is no such thing as a safe cigarette. People should quit if they are looking for a safe cigarette."

Yet the company's upbeat financial picture was followed by a steady denunciation of company activities by two dozen or so activists - among them 10 nurses from across the country dressed in white coats, an animal-rights activist, a doctor and a high school student from India.

As Camilleri spoke at the conclusion of the meeting, a dozen people stood up wearing blacks hoods with skull faces painted on them.

Sixteen-year-old Isha Gupta - one of several foreign attendees organized by a Washington, D.C., activist group - told Camilleri that many young Indians consume tobacco, and that the movies are full of cigarette product placements, including two recent box office hits that prominently featured Marlboro.

Dr. Alan Blum, director of the University of Alabama Center for the Study of Tobacco and Society, implored Altria to stop claiming that "light" cigarettes are less harmful to smokers.

"It's bunk," he said. "There is not a scintilla of scientific evidence that they confer any reduced risk of death or disease."

Camilleri referred to the company's position that "light" and other labels guide consumers on brand characteristics and don't mean the cigarette is safer.

Several of the nurses told of watching patients - and even their own family - die of lung cancer. Their stories drew commiseration from Camilleri. "I'm sorry abut your dad," he told one.

But Anne Morrow Donley, a member of Virginia Group to Alleviate Smoking in Public, was not impressed.

"I know today we have been watching the image of a kinder, gentler Camilleri, but the reality is not so," said Donley, who said she had attended the company's annual general meetings since 1990.

The remark drew a testy response from Camilleri.

"I think I know who I am," he said.

Where does Philip Morris stand with respect to secondhand smoking, also known as involuntary smoking, or Environmental Tobacco Smoke?

    Observe in the 2005 information from their 2004 Report and excerpted later on this page that:
Quoting excerpts from their Altria, 2004 Report, issued for the 2005 shareholders' meeting, page 24, highlighting added for emphasis:
Health Effects of Smoking and Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke (“ETS”):
    Reports with respect to the health risks of cigarette smoking have been publicized for many years, and the sale, promotion, and use of cigarettes continue to be subject to increasing governmental regulation.

    It is the policy of PM USA and PMI to support a single, consistent public health message on the health effects of cigarette smoking in the development of diseases in smokers, and on smoking and addiction, and on exposure to ETS. It is also their policy to defer to the judgment of public health authorities as to the content of warnings in advertisements and on product packaging regarding the health effects of smoking, addiction and exposure to ETS.

    PM USA and PMI each have established Web sites that include, among other things, the views of public health authorities on smoking, disease causation in smokers, addiction and ETS. These sites reflect PM USA's and PMI's agreement with the medical and scientific consensus that cigarette smoking is addictive, and causes lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema and other serious diseases in smokers. The Web sites advise smokers, and those considering smoking, to rely on the messages of public health authorities in making all smoking-related decisions.

Dr. K. Heinz Ginzel  in reviewing the PM web sites noted:
The situation appears to be totally grotesque, bordering on the obscene, in that there is a manufacturer who admits its merchandise harms and kills, yet continues to advertise and sell it at home and abroad, and to harvest the world's children as customers to secure future profits. 

The fact that PM was able to do this with impunity, and by preserving the status quo of conducting "business as usual" without even the least objection by government or society, reflects the depth of social morass and the moral abyss of disintegrating values into which this civilization has plunged.

[Virginia GASP]  Updated 2 May 2005