Philip Morris CEO says it’s ‘not that hard’ to quit cigarettes

May 12th, 2011 by Staff

richmond, va. – The head of cigarette maker Philip Morris International Inc. told a cancer nurse Wednesday that although cigarettes were harmful and addictive, it was not that hard to quit.

Chief Executive Louis C. Camilleri’s statement was in response to comments at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in New York.

The nurse, later identified as Elisabeth Gundersen of UC San Francisco, cited statistics that tobacco kills more than 400,000 Americans and 5 million people worldwide each year. She is a member of The Nightingales Nurses, an activist group that works to focus public attention on the tobacco industry.

Gundersen said a patient told her last week that of all the addictions he had beaten — crack, cocaine, methamphetamine — cigarettes had been the most difficult.

Camilleri, a longtime smoker, responded: “I don’t think we get enough recognition for the efforts we make to ensure that there is effective worldwide regulation of a product that is harmful and that is addictive. Nevertheless, whilst it is addictive, it is not that hard to quit. … There are more previous smokers in America today than current smokers.”

Afterward, the company reiterated its position that “tobacco products are addictive and harmful.”

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