Monday, October 26, 2009

Altria still raking in the profits despite recession and drop in sales

Behind that shiny corporate feel good logo is Phillip Morris- a company that has been deceiving the American public for far too long. Altria annouced that its profits rise another 1.7% in the third quarter despite high rates of unemployment, a deep recession, and lack of "consumer confidence." Altria is the parent company of Phillip Morris and markets death and disease under the names of Marlboro, Parliament, Virginia Slims, and Basic.

Big Tobacco reported that retailers reduced inventory and consumers slowed purchases due to the federal tax increase. In order to protect profits, Big Tobacco raised the price of its products in advance of the federal cigarette tax to ensure that more money was going into the pockets of these convicted racketeers.

Despite the annual decline in cigarette sales Phillip Morris and other members of Big Tobacco have been moving into the spit market as marked by Altria's purchase to buy U.S. Smokeless Tobacco (UST). UST is the maker of Skoal and Copenhagen. Altria is also the owner of Black and Mild Cigar Company. Not only do they sell cigarettes- they sell cigars, spit, and new products like Snus.

The purchase and marketing of spit tobacco and cigarettes is a movement by the industry to ensure they maintain a consumer base that is far too addicted to their many different products to quit one or all. To go one step further Big Tobacco is creating products that can be used anytime, anywhere. They even made Marlboro Snus, capitalizing on the branding of Marlboro and hopefully moving people into smokeless products. The public health impact of these new products are unknown. People are beginning to use a spit or smokeless product in certain settings and still smoke in the places where smoking is still allowed.

So, what does this mean for Wisconsin? The marketing of tobacco products is changing. In Wisconsin communities Big Tobacco is  promoting its new products, giving out free samples of new products, and ensuring it replaces the customer base it is losing to higher taxes, smoke-free laws, and most importantly, death and disease.

What can you do?
  • Become a Big Tobacco Slueth! 
  • Go inside gas stations/convenient stores and look at the new products- where are they located, what flavors are available, what does the packaging look like?
  • Ask clerks about the new products, ask questions like who buys them, what do they think of them?
  • Snap pictures of displays or advertising if possible
  • Post comments on the blog about your findings!
At my local convenient store- they have a huge banner for Camel Snus- SOLD COLD with promotional literature on how to use it and even a built-in promotional refrigerator. The clerk reports that sales are up. I could understand why, I am on the mailing list and have been receiving free coupons and buy one, get one coupons once a month for the last year.

Note: Altria is the parent company all the products shown above and responsible for thousands of cases of tobacco related death and disease. 

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