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The world's largest tobacco company, Philip Morris, came under fire once again towards the end of last year, this time for listing itself in a corporate promotional brochure as sponsoring the Red Nose Day Foundation, Australia's largest research charity supporting research on sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Sleeping in the prone position and exposure to tobacco smoke are the two most important, known risk factors for SIDS. The glossy brochure, resplendent with photographs of the company's products including cigarettes, identified the charity as among “recipients of support or sponsorship from Philip Morris and its operating companies in Australia”. Red Nose Day organisers are believed to have obtained, for fundraising purposes, two giant bars of Toblerone chocolate from Philip Morris's Kraft corporate arm, not realising the connection with the tobacco parent company.
On learning from tobacco control advocates that Philip Morris was using the Toblerone donation as part of its efforts to promote its corporate image, the executive director of the foundation, Ms Kaarene Fitzgerald, complained that its name and cause had been misused and announced that the money raised would be returned as unwanted to Philip Morris.
World wide Philip Morris has aggressively disputed evidence that environmental tobacco smoking is harmful. Anne Jones, director of Action on Smoking and Health (Australia) commented that Philip Morris claiming to support SIDS research was “about as offensive as Slobodan Milosovic donating to Kosovar refugee relief”.
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