GW INFACT film targets tobacco

Students watched a screening of Making a Killing, a documentary that accuses tobacco company Philip Morris of spreading tobacco addiction worldwide, in Funger Hall Thursday night. About 100 students attended the event.

INFACT, a grassroots corporate watchdog organization, the College Democrats and Students Transforming Irresponsible Corporations, a new politically active group at GW, sponsored the event.

The screening was part of INFACT’s campaign to boycott Kraft – a Philip Morris brand – to make Philip Morris stop advertising to children worldwide and to stop manipulating public health policy, said Valerie Orth, an INFACT field organizer.

The movie portrays boycotts as a way for consumers to vote with their pocket books.

INFACT and STIC members are targeting Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and Jell-O in their boycott.

These are the products most closely associated with Kraft so we want to boycott them to make a clear statement, said freshman Sofiya Goldshteyn, a member of STIC.

INFACT is working with GW and other schools in the D.C. area, such as American and Howard universities, to expand the campaign.

We want to promote awareness to get people to be involved rather than sympathize, Goldshteyn said. Our goal is to get Philip Morris to stop marketing to children and to be responsible for health costs from the tobacco epidemic.

Making a Killing highlights some of the reasons INFACT launched the boycott and what they hope to accomplish through it, organizers said.

One concern among group members that the film addresses involves Philip Morris advertisements that they said target children in the United States and other countries, especially in Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe.

We do not accept the idea that the popularity of any of our brands among underage smokers suggests in any way that we have been marketing to minors, reads a statement released on Phillip Morris’ Web Site.

But the evidence presented in Making a Killing disputes this statement. In the Czech Republic Philip Morris airs advertisements for cigarettes at the beginning of movies that are popular with teenagers.

After these advertisements aired cigarette smoking by teenagers between the ages 15 and 16 rose 50 percent, according to the movie.

Making a Killing also addressed the ways Philip Morris circumvents advertising laws in Malaysia and Vietnam to target children.

Before the screening, Lindsay Thompson, a legislative adviser to Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) spoke briefly.

Doggett has worked on anti-tobacco legislation in Congress and is featured in the film.

The sad thing is that (Philip Morris) have taken all their gusto from (the United States) and have taken it overseas to market to children, Thompson said.

Orth explained why people should care about this issue and take part in the boycott.

This is an important issue because Philip Morris is promoting to children worldwide and four million people die per year from tobacco related causes, Orth said.

STIC launched a student campaign against Citigroup. The group said that Citigroup funds environmentally and socially destructive programs in third-world countries

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