1954, Weissman Speech to NATD
1954, Weissman Speech to NATD
1954, Weissman Speech to NATD
1954, Weissman Speech to NATD
1954, Weissman Speech to NATD

1954, Weissman Speech to NATD

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    P U B L IC R E L A T IO N S A N D C IG A btE E T T E M A R f :ETINGB y

    George WeissmanVice President, Philip Morris & Co. Ltd.,IncorporatedA talk scheduled for delivery Tuesday afternoon, March30, before the 1954 NATD Convention, Chicago, Illinois .

    In 1950, speaking to the NATD convention~0 . Parker McComas, President of PhilipMorris said :

    We belong to ore of the oldest industries in the country, yet one of those that

    is the least understood . We have over fifty million customers, who should be thebasis and background for good public relations for all of us . I do not believe thatwe have that basis and background, and the reason~is that our full story has not beentold to the public . If that story is properly told, I bel%leve it would be an effec-tive antidote to the attacks of government upon our industry, to the sensation-seekingiarticles in magazines - which, upon careful reading, are found to be based on~rumor,surr.Lise and lack of knowledge rather than on fact - and above all, I believe it wouldbe helpful in stemming the tide of taxation which, if it continues at its present rate ,may well overwhelm us . "

    That, gentlemen, was four years ago and those words have grown more meaningfulwith age .

    For never in the history of American industry - a history that not so incident-ally had its origin in tobacco - has one industry been under such attack as we aretoday, never has an industry's very existence been co dependent on its relations withthe public .

    Let us face up realistically to this deficiency . Technologically, we make thebeat tobacco products in the world . Distribution-wi~se, we are the most efficient in-dustry in the world . Advertising-wise, we have the power and mastery to sell as noother nation can. But in this one element of public relations - today the most im-portant consideration of our business - we have been delinquent . ~

    It is not my role to lay the blame anywhere . I don't know that it can be . B~~

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    - 2-if there is blame to be placed, not an inconsiderable part must be laid at the door-steps of governmental bodies and agencies who by prohibiticn, regula6ion and strangu-lation inithe pas : preven .ed this industry from uniting and working together imitsown best interests, and I might add, ironically enoub'1, in the bes ;t interests of thosesame governmental groups who derive much more income from our industry than do thecombined owners of all t,Ye manua a,cturiiig, leaf, wholesaling and retailing trades .

    t7nless we ad.~nit this past d2ti~ciency in public relations, we will no*t be able to

    move towards the future . And, how elce can we exp laim the recent actic.aas in Washington

    around the excise tax : program when the $ .50 per thousand cigarette emergency tax im-

    posed in 1952 was scheduledto expire tomorrow night? Yet, spokesman after spokesman

    of the businessman's a.dministration - including the President himself - called for a

    reduction in excise taxes, except for "tobacco and. liquor ." The spokesmeafor theNational Association of Manufacturers called for tax reductions except for "tobacco~

    and liquor." In fact, the voice of the tobacco industiy'was so silent that the com-mittee even voted to freeze the o4 .00 per thousand'cigarettes into the permanent taxsstructure . But fortunately, due to representations made by our good friends like

    Eric Calair.ia and Joe Kolodny, along with others frem leaf ar :d manufacturing, it waschanged to a one-year action .

    But the point I want-to make is - where were our industry public relations?Where were the delegations, letters, peti~tions to the congrersmen from the 60,000,800consumers who will pay more than $3 .00 extra irn cigarette taxes this year ; where we'rethe outcries from the 3,000,000 peoole who draw their prime source of income from to--bacco farms ; what about the 3,000 wholesalers and their more than 100,000 employe^sto whom this tax is a bread-and-butter proposition, and the several hundred thousandretailers and their employees?

    Where was the basic public relations program that brought the public to our sideon a matter that so vitaliLy affected its pocketbook . Have we, as one of the largestconsumer industries in America, become so complacent in~our thinking, so rich, fatand lazy that we allow a 14% tax rise without practically a good screami Or is itthat we are so used to being the "fal'l guy" for every tax scheme, that we_a .re so buf-feted about on so many matters, that we can no longer raise our bloody heads andscream bloody murder? Gentlemen, if we have reached that state, we might as well shutthe doors of our bus :nesses and turn the keys over to t`)e politicians and articlewriters . 202223934U ~

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    -3-'Thich brings rie to another, and even more importa .nt current prcblem' -- the

    current medical proFA~7ancj .a being d irected a gainst th e cigaret ~,e ind ustry by a

    small r.umber of doctors and a lar ge number of magazines , and newspapers . As ir,ar . y ,

    if r.ot more, di ;,tinguished scienti ;,ts have disputed the arbi*,rary s .?ter .^nts of

    the few docturs . As many, if not mcre, distinguished researchers, have pointed out

    other factors such as air ;)ollution rather than cigarette s,r.oking . There are many

    scientists who question the statistice and even doubt the fact that there is a

    health quest ..ion imvolved in cigarette smoking . Yet, who rated the headlines when

    the charges were made? Unfortunately, the cig : u r e t t e ' :ndustry . Where were the

    denials and counterclaims i You sometimes had to use a niicrosacope to find the . - n .

    T need riot go further into an exami!naticn of this problem . You know the ef-

    fects i ;, has had Rnd is hPving nn our industry . I would unly like to say this on

    behalf of our officials at Philip Morris, and I believe this represents the vie w of

    the other manufacturers, the jobberp . *pta .ilers and ev~:ryone iii this rounc

    .

    If . .we,hcd any thought or knowledge that in an y wP,y,-r+e were selling a product

    harm,ril to consumers, we would stop business tomorVmi . But, fnr mo^e t han YOC years,

    people have been smoking tobacco products for pleasure, r,-laxat? .orn, solace and sat-

    i sfaction . During that time, the .longevity of the ponulatuioa has increr : , . 7. e d ~ a n d t h e e

    world today is enjoying a : higher and better living and he3 .lth standard than ever be-

    fore . Let the maaazine and newspaper wr-Iters ccrrelate their * .obaceo con ,v^; ) t i o n

    figures with these facts .

    I point out the above because it is part of our overall public relations prob-lem, that : ) f + l a J l i n , ~ :;c story we have and creating ran atmosphere where our industryis recognized :nd re4% :Lrded fo . the contributions it is making to ou- soeiety. It isa good positive story .

    1 First rnd fore:-ost is the fact that at the lowest prices in the world :.he Ctobacco industry of UniLed States supplies the highest quality cigarettes in theworld for the en j oy .nent of 60, 000 .000 consumers . And' genr,lemen, this pack of cigar-

    ettes is the greatest part of our story - for twenty billion time3 a year it is ourlink to the A:nerican siroker .

    2 . Our direct excise tax, pP,yments alone last year of r+nT .; than one and a half

    bi_Llion dollars practically equals the entire Federal budget for health and welfisre

    of the nation . Our more than half a billion dollars in taxes to the state and local

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    -4-gcvPrn-nents const . i .tuces in many sections of the aation a principal scurce of funds

    for education, medical care, and police and fire prot eeticn. -3 . That this industry is the prime source ox income for move than three and

    a half million Americam citizens .

    4 . That by our purchases of over seas leaf, particularly in the Near East, we

    have been of subste . n .ial aid to u-- government in buiwarking the economics of . a a n y

    countries ag&inst Commuaist aggression .

    That is part of our story . You in your localities can amplify it even further .

    Now, what t :E ere going to do about our probiem .

    1 . On the medicel question, the in dustry has f c+--d the Tobnc .:u Lndustl-y Re-

    search Council which deserves the wholehearted support of each and e7eryor .Q of us .

    2. On the tax and other problems, the NATD, The Retail Tobacco De3lers .lssoc-

    iation and the other natio nal organizations have been doing yeomanlixe work, wo,k

    that must be expanded, coordinat ed and supported

    . And now, I would like to get personal for 9,,mo : n e n t . Each of us in this

    room is a public relations ambassa.lor of the 'tobacco industry . Each of our Pmps oy-

    ees and co-workers -19>Whether in manufacturing, retail, leaf or wholesaling - s :S a

    public relations ambassador for the industry. Our neig hbors, our legislato rs, the

    shopkeepers with whom we deal, the suppliers whe sell us, the customers we have -

    regard us as representative of this industry . Let us represent this industry as we r4wa-it it regarded by the outside public . Let us maintain ethical business pra .ctices .

    Let us keep our squabbles internal - in fact let us eliminate those squabbles and

    present a dignified united front to those outside zur industry .

    Let us become acquainted with the fart,s of our industry, as to tax&tion, as to

    the medical problem - material is available to you through~the trade press, throug h

    the various groups T mentioned - and let us