Religion In The News

Philip Morris Company Charged With Blasphemy

by Elroy Willis -- November 8, 1998


RICHMOND (EAP) -- Philip Morris Inc. has been charged with blasphemy by several groups of conservative Christians after the company introduced a new warning message on their packages of cigarettes which says "Smoking can help you meet Jesus sooner."

The warning message was intended to indicate that people who smoke die sooner than those who don't, but it fell flat on its face, so it seems.

"We were trying to present the dangers of smoking in a more positive or acceptable light," said Karen Reed, marketing director for Philip Morris.

"We never expected to receive such harsh ridicule from religious organizations because of a label on our cigarette packages, especially since it was clear that we were presenting smoking as a health danger."

"This is a clear attempt to lure Christians into using tobacco products," said Joshua Randall, president of Christians For God, which keeps a close eye on all commercial advertising for signs of blasphemy against God and Jesus.

"We also keep an eye on alcohol advertisements and condom and other birth control advertisements," said Joel Fringstien, leader of one of the groups which has opposed the new cigarette warning label.

"We resent the negative implications, and are removing the new warning label despite our better judgement," said Mrs. Reed.

"Lord knows we don't need any more bad or negative press or lawsuits at the current time. We have our legal hands full enough at the moment."


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