[Virginia GASP]          2009 Philip Morris International -- 1st shareholders' meeting
                      New York, NY, USA -- Meeting Smoke-Free

Activists from many parts of the USA and the world participated in protesting the nicotine cartel's continued marketing of addictive and lethal products.  This is a moral and health issue.  Philip Morris in all its various formats has never stopped producing and marketing products which addict and kill when used as intended, and the company has yet to apologize for this, much less change its mode of existence, building each profit on the backs and the coffins of the suffering and dying consumers and on their families who suffer as well. 

Protests were expressed inside the meeting, and outside.  Attendance inside tobacco company shareholder meetings is strictly limited to persons owning stock, or persons who grant permission to someone else to take their place and represent them at the shareholder meeting.  This all has to be cleared in advance with the tobacco company staff.

Louis Camilleri, the former CEO of Altria/Philip Morris, is a well paid master of the sneer and the sarcastic gesture.  Each year he seeks to downplay opposition by making it appear that he is waging a battle against simple misunderstandings about his company.  The plain truth is that he is a well paid, expensively dressed, but very greedy little drug pusher.  Governments allow him to push his drugs.  But he is still a drug pusher.

EXCERPTS from The New York Times, May 6, 2009, "Philip Morris Meeting Mixes Tobacco Profit and Antismoking Protest",
Duff Wilson.
It was a meeting of big numbers.

Philip Morris International emphasized its 2008 profit: $16.3 billion on the sale of 850 billion cigarettes outside the United States.

Meanwhile, antitobacco advocates in the audience chose to cite the estimated 5.4 million people around the globe who died last year from smoking-related causes.

The meeting, in a hotel ballroom at the Grand Hyatt in Midtown Manhattan, was the first annual shareholder event since Philip Morris split off its international unit last year as a separate business from the American tobacco operations, to pursue markets beyond the borders and burdens of United States litigation and legislation.

Louis C. Camilleri, the chairman of Philip Morris International, noted that profits rose from a broad range of price increases, even as sales of cigarette units were virtually flat. Highlighting figures previously released, Mr. Camilleri said the company’s revenue was up 6.6 percent last year, to $25.7 billion, excluding excise taxes.

“We have demonstrated our ability to use pricing in order to improve profitability even in recessionary times,” Mr. Camilleri said. First-quarter 2009 sales increased another 6.3 percent, he said, “driven by price increases across a broad range of markets.”

While many in the audience of about 200 shareholders seemed pleased with the data, about 30 dissidents in the room used the event to protest smoking’s toll.

During an hourlong question session, a dozen critics confronted Mr. Camilleri, with remarks that included “Why are you marketing to children in Africa?” and “Stop targeting Indonesian youth.”

He repeatedly rebutted the questioners as ill informed or wrong. “Again, please, try to get your facts straight,” he told one critic.

One woman said that rather than having Mr. Camilleri “disrespect” a direct question from her, she would ask for a minute of silence for people who died last year from smoking-related causes.

The ballroom fell silent for a minute as the ventilation system whirred.

Then Mr. Camilleri said, “Thank you” and took the next question, from a supportive shareholder ...

During the meeting, as a video tribute to the company’s global employees played on a giant screen, six people in the audience, their heads covered with black hoods, held signs about the global death toll from smoking. One read “WORLD: 14,700/day”

Among items up for vote, shareholders approved Mr. Camilleri’s eligibility for $9.4 million in incentive pay for 2008, making his total compensation $32 million, for what the proxy statement termed “the exceptional job he has done in leading P.M.I. to record operating performance and results.”

That was up from the $24 billion in compensation Mr. Camilleri made the previous year, as chairman of Philip Morris’s parent, Altria.

[Virginia GASP]  Added May 6, 2009