Health Orgs Asking Disney To Urge Partner Network To End Partnership with Philip Morris
Today The Walt Disney Company has been sent a strong message from a coalition of eight national and international health organizations. They are urging that Disney require its partner network, Vice Media, to terminate its relationship with Philip Morris International. Philip Morris International is the world’s largest manufacturer and seller of cigarettes.
Vice is a global digital media and broadcasting company originally based in Canada. Disney is a prominent stakeholder. It has invested more than $400 million in Vice and reportedly owns more than 10% of the company. The health organizations are asking Disney to require that Vice adopt a strict policy prohibiting the company and its subsidiaries from working with tobacco companies. Secondly, the groups want Disney to require Vice to make all tobacco-related business relationships public, including a detailed description of all tobacco-related marketing activities.
Vice’s existing partnership with Philip Morris International undermines the strong anti-tobacco stance taken by Disney. It also undermines its commitment to protecting youth from tobacco and smoke exposure, according to the health organizations.
Health Organization Letter
“We are confident that Disney, which has been a leader in reducing youth exposure to tobacco use in entertainment, would not want to be associated with a company actively supporting the tobacco industry,” the letter from the health organizations states. “We hope you will use your influence as a shareholder and as a respected public company to encourage Vice to cease working for an industry whose major product is projected to kill a billion people worldwide this century.”
The groups that have signed on to the appeal include:
- Truth Initiative®
- American Cancer Society
- The American Heart Association
- American Lung Association
- Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
- The Union (International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease)
- American Academy of Pediatrics and Vital Strategies
Vice and Phillip Morris International Deal
The Financial Times recently reported on a $6.5 million deal between Vice and Phillip Morris International. The deal is to produce sponsored content endorsing e-cigarettes. Vice and Phillip Morris International have disputed the details of the arrangement. They also claim it will not promote vaping. However, they have acknowledged that Vice is accepting funding from Phillip Morris International to create a media platform.
The prospect of a media platform with the presumed intent to promote e-cigarettes and smoking products is deeply troubling to national health organizations. Furthermore, in 2018, the U.S. surgeon general declared e-cigarette use among youth a public health epidemic. Recent data show that in 2018, 20.8% of U.S. high school students used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days. Further, young people who use e-cigarettes are four times more likely to progress to cigarette smoking compared to their peers who do not use e-cigarettes.
Largely considered a leader in reducing youth exposure to tobacco, Disney has long been committed to addressing tobacco in its youth-rated (i.e., G/PG/PG-13) movies. In 2016, Disney was also the only company of the six major Motion Picture Association of America movie companies who had zero tobacco incidents per movie. Further, Disney recently banned smoking at its Florida and California theme parks.
“The game plan seems clear: continue the pipeline of nicotine addiction to preserve profits and markets even if the new users are kids,” the organizations write in their letter. “Vice appears to be committed to continuing to be an industry shill.”
SOURCE Truth Initiative
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