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Tuesday, 17 July, 2001, 11:24 GMT 12:24 UK
Fury over 'benefits of smoking' report
Person lighting up a cigarette
Philip Morris makes 80% of Czech cigarettes
Anti-smoking campaigners have reacted with fury to a report delivered to the Czech Government, which argues that there are economic benefits to smoking.

Would a responsible, reformed tobacco company tell foreign governments that dead smokers are a good thing for their budgets?

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
The report, drawn up for tobacco giant Philip Morris, found that the Czech Republic saved about $147m in 1997 as a result of the deaths of smokers who would not live to use healthcare or housing for the elderly.

"Following that logic, the best recommendation to governments would be to kill all people on the day of their retirement," Czech public health campaigner, Eva Kralikova said.

Philip Morris has subsequently denied that it was trying to present a positive side to smoking.

'Very unfortunate'

The company says the report was compiled as a cost-benefit analysis. Calculations included the cost of caring for smokers before they died against the cost of long term provision for the elderly.

"It is very unfortunate that this is one aspect of the study that is being focused on," Philip Morris spokesman Rimi Calvert said.

But anti-smokers have been vitriolic in their condemnation of the company.

Marlboro cigarettes
Philip Morris produces one of the world's best known brands

John Connolly of the British anti-smoking group Ash dismissed the report, compiled by the consulting firm Arthur D Little International, as repellant.

"Philip Morris is whispering in the ear of the Czech Government saying, 'Look, we can help you deal with those expensive old people, so why don't you go easy on controlling smoking?'", Mr Connolly argued.

The US pressure group Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said the report showed the irresponsibility of Philip Morris.

"Would a responsible, reformed tobacco company tell foreign governments that dead smokers are a good thing for their budgets?" the campaigning group's president Matthew Myers asked.

Anti-smoking groups have also questioned the report's validity, as it assumes that if cigarette sales ceased, smokers would not spend their money on other goods.


Philip Morris employs 178,000 people in more than 150 countries, and is the world's largest cigarette maker with brands such as Marlboro.

It produces 80% of the cigarettes smoked in the Czech Republic.

Tobacco companies have used similar arguments in the past to defend themselves against lawsuits from states demanding reimbursement for treating smoking-related diseases.

However, last month a Los Angeles jury ordered Philip Morris to pay more than $3bn to a smoker suffering from terminal cancer who said the company did not warn him of the dangers of smoking.

The award was the largest individual punitive damage award ever against a cigarette maker.

The BBC's Chiaka Nwosu
"Anti-smoking campaigners say this analysis proves Philip Morris is more interested in profits than lives"
Richard Daynard, Tobacco Products Liability Project
"It really is quite dreadful"
See also:

13 Jul 01 | Health
Gene linked to heart disease risk
07 Jun 01 | Business
Q&A: Tobacco litigation
07 Jun 01 | Americas
US smoker wins billions in damages
15 May 01 | Health
Europe strikes at smoking
15 Oct 99 | Americas
The US tobacco wars
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