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Business sector shuns tobacco companies

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.331.7529.1414 (Published 08 December 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:1414
  1. Simon Chapman ([email protected]), professor of public health
  1. University of Sydney

    The World Health Organization's current estimate of the global number of deaths caused by tobacco use each year is 4.9 million. That's nearly four deaths a second, and about half of these people die before their working life ends. The great majority of these preventable, often wretched and painful early deaths occur among cigarette smokers. And the great majority of these smokers are the best, most loyal customers of multinational tobacco companies such as British American Tobacco (BAT) and Philip Morris.

    All four companies said they had not known that BAT was the headline act…all four rapidly withdrew

    So imagine yourself as the chief executive of a company haemorrhaging customers in this way: BAT, with 15.4% of the global market share, loses 754 600 customers a year; Philip Morris, with 16.4%, contributes 803 600 dead customers. Acres of your embarrassing internal memos have caused you to give up decades of denial that your products cause all these deaths. You're not going to throw in the towel, so the only way forward is to use the device of informed consent—you sell risk. …

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