On May 8, I attended Philip Morris International's, or PMI, annual shareholders meeting. As a youth advocate for Project:1200, I work to educate my peers about the dangers of tobacco use as well as the lies and manipulation the tobacco industry uses to target us.
I attended the meeting to ask PMI to butt out of public health policies so youth around the world won't become addicted to their deadly products. Globally, tobacco kills one person every six seconds, and almost 6 million every year. About 8.5 percent of Utah students in grades 9-12 smoke, and Utahns as a whole spend $57.9 million on tobacco costs.
This September, cigarette packs were supposed to be covered with graphic warning labels. Now, due to lawsuits launched by the tobacco industry, this life-saving public health measure has been put on hold. This is the type of tactic the tobacco industry uses to interfere with public health efforts around the world. Tobacco use isn't only a problem in Utah and in the U.S., it's a problem all around the world — especially because tobacco companies like PMI have increased their investments in places like Indonesia, home of the "smoking baby," with weak public health restrictions.
Tobacco companies can pass out cigarettes to kids and advertise at concerts. I'd like to ask other residents of Salt Lake City to become a part of the movement to stop tobacco industry interference.
Talk to someone you know about the dangers of using tobacco, or advocate for smoke-free parks or schools. Together, we can work to stop big tobacco's tactics at home and abroad.