Tobacco foes smoking – Charity called deceptive

Charging Philip Morris with using its charity to court politicians and fool the public, smoking opponents say community groups should reject contributions from the giant cigarette maker, the Associated Press reported Aug. 30.

The American Lung Association, other health advocates and private citizens held a news conference triggered by ads Philip Morris has been running to tout its philanthropy.

“The tobacco industry is using charitable donations to buy the good name and support of community organizations,” said Pat Etem, spokeswoman for L.A. Link, an umbrella group for anti-tobacco groups.

“By aggressively publicizing these donations, big tobacco is trying to convince the public they’re now good corporate citizens, even through their product continues to spread disease and death,” she said.

Etem and others said the company contributes to community groups to strengthen its ties with politicians who in turn might back tobacco interests in Congress and protect the industry from greater regulation, AP said.

A company spokesman denied the claims, saying Philip Morris is “100 percent interested” in government regulation of tobacco and has been talking with members of Congress about the issue.

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