LAUSANNE, Switzerland--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Philip Morris International (PMI) responded today to comments reported in the media concerning a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) claim filed by PMI’s affiliates against the government of Uruguay. Many of these reports are misleading and omit important facts about tobacco regulations in Uruguay and our lawsuit.
PMI is not seeking to prevent the government from protecting the health of its citizens. The regulations we are challenging are extreme and ineffective measures that have created an environment conducive to the black market in cigarettes. According to the Tobacco Atlas 2009, Uruguay already has the fourth highest incidence of contraband cigarettes in the world. Recent studies confirm that consumption of contraband cigarettes is equivalent to over 25% of all cigarettes sold in Uruguay.
One example of these extreme and ineffective regulations is the 2009 ordinance that forced companies to withdraw all but one pack variation per cigarette brand. PMI complied pulling 7 out of 12 brand varieties from the market, including Marlboro variants representing 40% of Marlboro sales. On the other hand, the local Uruguayan tobacco company with 77% market share merely renamed its existing brand variants, keeping all of its packs on the market. The government has done nothing to enforce the law against the local company which has evaded it, while PMI, which has complied fully, has suffered substantial damages resulting from the removal of many of our well known international brands.
Commenting on the case, Even Hurwitz, Senior Vice President Corporate Affairs, PMI said, "Our lawsuit is not a question of public health versus business. We are challenging regulations which are not fairly applied to all companies, add further fuel to Uruguay’s huge black market in cigarettes and have not even been shown to reduce smoking prevalence.”
Contrary to some media reports PMI is not seeking and did not file lawsuits to overturn public place smoking restrictions, lift advertising restrictions, prevent all graphic warnings on cigarette packs or reverse bans on descriptors such as “milds” or “lights”.
For more details of the BIT case please see our extended company statement at www.pmi.com.
About Philip Morris International
Philip Morris International (PMI) (NYSE:PM)(Paris:PM) is the leading international tobacco company, with seven of the world’s top 15 brands including Marlboro, the number one cigarette brand worldwide. PMI’s products are sold in approximately 160 countries. In 2009, the company held an estimated 15.4% share of the total international cigarette market outside of the U.S., or 26.0% excluding the People’s Republic of China and the U.S. For more information, see www.pmi.com.