Patti Lynn


Incorporation of Tobacco Company Demonstrates Need
for States to Place People Before Profits

Boston -- Corporate accountability activists are denouncing the decision by the Commonwealth of Virginia to incorporate a new company, Licensed to Kill, Inc. ( As stated in its articles of incorporation, the company’s purpose is “the manufacture and marketing of tobacco products in a way that kills over 400,000 Americans and 4.5 million other persons worldwide.”

According to the national corporate accountability organization Infact, Licensed to Kill’s stated purpose mirrors the reality behind the massive public relations of Philip Morris (now Altria). Since 1994, Infact has been challenging Philip Morris/Altria to stop tobacco promotion that appeals to children and young people around the world and to stop interfering in public health policy.

“The incorporation of a company with the stated intent to kill millions of people worldwide is a clear demonstration of the need for major change in how corporations are established and allowed to operate in our society. Our state governments are giving their seal of approval to corporations that profit at the expense of health, human rights and the environment globally. The tobacco industry, led by Philip Morris/Altria, is one of the most egregious examples of this kind of behavior,” says Infact Executive Director Kathryn Mulvey.

Corporate charters are granted by state governments as a license to operate for a particular purpose. Today, giant corporations like Philip Morris/Altria have amassed enormous power and influence over every branch and level of our government. Through legislation and court interpretations, since the late 19th century they have chipped away at democratic controls over corporations—such as the ability to revoke charters if the privileges are abused. Activists from a wide range of perspectives and movements are calling for a major shift in the balance of power between corporations and ordinary people.

The launch of the Licensed to Kill website draws attention to the tobacco industry’s intention to derail the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)—the world’s first public health treaty—scheduled to be adopted in Geneva next month. The FCTC will change the way transnational tobacco corporations like Philip Morris/Altria operate around the world. One of the most important provisions in the treaty is a ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, allowing for constitutional conflicts. An editorial in this month’s issue of Tobacco International, an industry trade journal, calls on giant tobacco corporations and their allies to mobilize to block the adoption of the current treaty text.


Since 1977, Infact has been exposing life-threatening abuses by transnational corporations and organizing successful grassroots campaigns to hold corporations accountable to consumers and society at large. From the Nestlé Boycott of the 1970s and ‘80s to the GE Boycott of the 1980s and ‘90s to today’s Boycott of Philip Morris’s Kraft Foods-Infact organizes to win!