April 30, 2004
Doctors' group asks Minister of Health to Intervene.
(Ottawa) - Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada today expressed dismay at the decision taken by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) to vote against shareholder proposals that would have required Altria to place health warnings camparable to those in place in Canada on its cigarettes sold in the United States and overseas.
Altria is the parent company of Philip Morris USA and Philip Morris International. It is the world's largest transnational tobacco company, and produces more than 15% of the cigarettes smoked globally. Philip Morris' largest selling brand of cigarettes is Marlboro.
At the Annual General Meeting of Altria Shareholders, held on April 29th in East Hanover, New Jersey, 17 motions were decided. Ten of these concerned the appointment of directors, one involved the separation of CEO and Chairman responsibilities, one involved the appointment of auditors and five involved changes to the way Philip Morris packaged and sold its cigarettes.
"The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board rejected each and every one of the health proposals," said Cynthia Callard, Executive Director of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada. "They voted against warning women of the harmful effects of smoking on the fetus, they voted against testing cigarette filters for safety, they voted against disclosing political contributions, they voted against ending the use of misleading terms like "light" and "ultralight" on cigarettes. Most surprisingly, Canadian pension contributions were used to help defeat a motion to require Canadian health warnings."
All Canadian workers residing outside of Quebec must contribute 4.95% of their earnings (to a maximum of $1831) to the Canada Pension Plan. This money is invested, among other things, in shares in the stock-market, including shares in Tobacco and other corporations which produce controversial and harmful substances.
Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada has sought - without success - a change in the CPPIB investment policy.
"In January this year, we launched a campaign to help inform Canadians of the dangerous and harmful ways their pension funds were being invested," explained Callard. "Through our lifesavings campaign we hope to persuade the parliamentarians to whom the CPPIB reports that these investments are inappropriate and should be ended."
PSC has written the Minister of Health, the Hon. Pierre Pettigrew, to ask for his office to meet with the chairman of the CPPIB, Mr. John McNaughton, and to brief him on the harm caused by the actions supported by the CPP investments.
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Cynthia Callard 613 850 5594
Partial text of the motions opposed by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. Full text is available at the Altria web-site. (click here)
RESOLVED: shareholders request management to prepare a report outlining the steps the company will take to more adequately warn women of childbearing age of the harm caused by tobacco use to them and their baby before and after birth. We suggest that such include a program similar to AAA in which merchants would ask women of child bearing age if they are pregnant and provide pregnant women with educational materials on the harm smoking causes the fetus any time a pregnant [sic] purchases cigarettes. We also suggest the steps the Company will take to penalize merchants who fail to comply with the program.
Proposal 2 – Report on Health Risks Associated with Filters
RESOLVED: Shareholders request our Company to create an independent panel of outside experts to issue a report addressing: (a) previous test results, by cigarette brand, of any and all materials released from cigarette filters, (b) the toxicological test results of filter materials performed by Philip Morris or subcontractors; and (c) results of studies undertaken to measure the human health risks of all filter materials in mainstream smoke. The report shall include the tests identified previously by Philip Morris and INBIFO ("Assays for Product Integrity Testing," TDO #2505161388-1392). The findings should be prepared at a reasonable cost and made available in an appropriate manner before the Company's 2005 Annual Meeting.
Proposal 3 – Political Disclosure Resolution
Resolved, that the shareholders of Altria Group, Inc. ("Company") hereby request that the Company prepare and submit to the shareholders of the Company:
1. A report, updated annually, disclosing its policies for political contributions (both direct and indirect) made with corporate funds. The reports shall include, but not be limited to, contributions and donations to political candidates, political parties, political committees and other political entities organized and operating under 26 USC Sec. 527. This Report shall be disclosed to shareholders through the Company's web site or to shareholders in published form.
2. A semi-annual report of political contributions, disclosing monetary and non-monetary contributions to candidates, parties, political committees and other organizations and individuals described in paragraph 1. This report shall contain the following information: (a) An accounting of the Company's funds contributed or donated to any of the persons described above; (b) A business rationale for each of the Company's political contributions or donations; and (c) Identification of the person or persons in the Company who participated in making the decisions to contribute or donate.
Proposal 4 – Cease Promoting Light and Ultralight Brands
RESOLVED that Philip Morris Companies, Inc. [sic] stop all advertising, marketing and sale of cigarettes using the terms "light," "ultralight," "mild" and similar words and/or colors and images until shareholders can be assured through independent research that light and ultralight brands actually do reduce the risk of smoking-related diseases, including cancer and heart disease.
Proposal 5 – Voluntarily Place Canadian — Type Warnings on All Its Cigarette Packs Worldwide
RESOLVED: that Philip Morris voluntarily place Canadian-style warnings on all cigarettes it sells in the United States and, subject to applicable laws, in those countries where Canadian-style warnings are not yet required.
Altria Group, Inc.