Idea Of The Day

Smoking and Altruism

“Today, we are … one of the largest corporate grant makers in the United States. In the past decade, we have contributed more than $1 billion in cash and food donations—$125 million in 2000 alone—to help feed the body, ease suffering, and nourish the spirit.” This generous statement is made by Philip Morris, one of the largest tobacco and food companies on the planet. So, too, is this one: “Philip Morris is one of the largest corporate supporters of environmental protection and conservation causes. From small grassroots groups to large organizations working in locations from Oregon to Argentina, we support a strong diversity of nonprofit organizations employing a variety of approaches and strategies.” Oregon to Argentina? How nice to know, but surely this should be “Oregon to the Czech Republic.” Not so long ago, Philip Morris produced a report for the Czech government on the social and financial consequences of smoking. More smokers, so the thinking goes, would lead to more early deaths, and therefore to fewer people claiming state retirements and welfare benefits, saving Czech tax payers about $30 million. Or as the Tallahassee Democrat neatly puts it in a headline to their story about the Morris report: “Smokers less costly when dead.” Anti-smoking groups such as ASH have denounced the report. In their view, if realized, it would amount to nothing less than state-sponsored extermination.

Where’s “Omnivore”?
Inigo Thomas’ Idea of the Day has replaced his Omnivore column. The name is new, and the layout has been streamlined, but Inigo will still focus on what’s happening in arts and culture around the world. You may read the entire Omnivore archives by clicking here.  

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