Tobacco Giant Philip Morris Criticized for Donating Ventilators for Coronavirus Response

Tobacco Giant Philip Morris Criticized for Donating Ventilators for Coronavirus Response

Philip Morris International has been accused of a ‘shameful publicity stunt’ for donating ventilators to the Coronavirus response in Greece. PMI is the world’s single largest tobacco multinational and has been embroiled in controversies in the past.

The company’s Greek affiliate Papastros has donated 50 ventilators to the Greek government, according to a new report from The Daily Beast. While the Greek health minister has thanked the cigarette company for the donation, others see the move as a cynical ploy.

“This is a shameful publicity stunt by Philip Morris International, which owns Papastratos and has a 40 percent share of the Greek tobacco market,” said Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health.

“Smoking makes people more vulnerable to coronavirus, and if they get it makes the symptoms worse, meaning they’re more likely to need a ventilator,” she said.

Medical experts have issued advice to smokers saying they should try to quit during the Covid-19 global pandemic as the habit can make a person more vulnerable to the disease.

“Papastratos makes €1.3bn a year,” Arnott said. “In comparison, the donation of 50 ventilators is a drop in the ocean.”

The image of a major cigarette company donating ventilators is an odd one, considering the harm tobacco products cause to health. Smoking can cause cancers, respiratory problems and other serious conditions, as well as being highly addictive. Philip Morris in the U.S. produces popular cigarette brands like Marlboro and Benson & Hedges.

Darragh Roche

Darragh Roche

Darragh Roche is Political Media Editor