I always give people the benefit of the doubt when I first encounter them. I also avoid judging folks when I know them, and I try not to judge people I have not even met!
But Louis C. Camilleri tries my patience. He is the CEO of Philip Morris International, Inc. Recently, in response to a stockholder who is critical of the company making and marketing cigarettes, he said,
We take our responsibility very seriously. I don’t think we get enough recognition for the efforts we make to ensure that there is effective worldwide regulation of a product that is harmful and that is addictive. Nevertheless, whilst it is addictive, it is not that hard to quit. . . . There are more previous smokers in America today than current smokers.
Where to begin?
First, as most any smoker will tell you, it is very difficult to quit. People do it, yes, but usually with enormous personal effort–and usually after many unsuccessful attempts.
Second, he actually seems unconcerned that his company makes, and markets, a product that is both harmful and addictive. I wonder how that feels when he is alone, by himself and looking in the mirror.
In the process, moreover, he provides evidence in the current efforts to eliminate government programs and instead trust our economic system to solve our problems. “Turn it over to private enterprise, and all will be well,” say many people who oppose government programs.
But Mr. Camilleri reminds us that a top, if not the first, priority of business is to make money, to produce a return for investors–and if that means manufacturing and selling harmful, addictive products . . . well, so be it.
Oh, Mr. Camilleri, thank you for your honesty, even if it seems misguided, incorrect, and even inept. I am praying for you–and I am trying not to get judgmental in my prayer, just asking for your well-being.
I also continue to pray for all my friends and their families and friends and all the others who are still trying to quit smoking, and those with emphysema.