Philip Morris to John Oliver: Give Us a Break, We're Trying Our Best

Courtesy of HBO

"While we recognize the tobacco industry is an easy target for comedians, we take seriously the responsibility that comes with selling a product that is an adult choice and is harmful to health."

On Sunday's Last Week Tonight John Oliver took the tobacco industry to task, focusing specifically on Philip Morris International and the company's lawsuits against countries like Uruguay and Togo. Oliver even came up with his own marketing icon for tobacco companies to use — Jeff the Diseased Lung.

Philip Morris has responded to Oliver's segment, admitting their product is "harmful to health" but pointing out it's also "an easy target for comedians." Geez, John Oliver. Stop picking on them.

"On February 15, 2015, the 'Last Week Tonight with John Oliver' show dedicated a significant portion of its program to our company," Philip Morris said in a statement. "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver is a parody show, known for getting a laugh through exaggeration and presenting partial views in the name of humor. The segment includes many mischaracterizations of our company, including our approach to marketing and regulation, which have been embellished in the spirit of comedic license."

“While we recognize the tobacco industry is an easy target for comedians, we take seriously the responsibility that comes with selling a product that is an adult choice and is harmful to health. We support and comply with thousands of regulations worldwide — including advertising restrictions, penalties for selling tobacco products to minors and substantial health warnings on packaging."

"We’re investing billions into developing and scientifically assessing a portfolio of products that have the potential to be less harmful and that are satisfying so smokers will switch to them. And, like any other company with a responsibility to its business partners, shareholders and employees, we ask only that laws protecting investments, including trademarks, be equally applied to us. For a balanced view and facts on the many topics raised by the program, including PMI’s marketing practices and approach to regulation, please take the time to read the following information:

“Find out about our 'Be Marlboro' campaign, which is aimed at competing for existing adult smoker market share here. Learn about why we are challenging Australia and Uruguay’s censorship of our trademarks here, here and here. Get the facts about smoking prevalence in Australia after the introduction of plain packaging here and here.”

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