Former Australian citizen Geoffrey Bible retired as chief executive officer of Philip Morris at the end of August, after spending nearly 35 years with the company, taking the helm in June 1994. Bible gave up smoking in 2000 on his doctor's advice. As Stan Shatenstein commented: "While we would never expect a lingerie company's male CEO to wear a bra, it's inconceivable that a car company boss would choose not to drive, or that the head of the Meat Board would become a vegetarian as retirement approached. But tobacco companies appear to have no trouble with their executives' defections from the ranks. Is it possible that with the prospect of rich retirement stretching out ahead of him, Bible feared early death at the end of the tobacco road?" (1)
In an obsequious valedictory published in fellow Philip Morris board member Rupert Murdoch's Weekend Australian, (2) mere mortals were asked to salivate over the tiresome challenges he now faces: "Will he go skiing in Switzerland, where he owns a chalet, or swimming in Bermuda, where he owns a house, or head to the course for another golf lesson?" In 1999 Bible received US$21.2 million from the company: $1.63 million in salary, a $4.4 million bonus, restricted shares worth $6.48 million, and retirement and other payments worth $537 690. He also got options worth $8.11 million on the days they were granted. (3) Murdoch was quoted in the article describing Bible as "so honourable" and "extremely effective". A man who has "confronted the issues".
Oxford University's Sir Richard Peto has calculated that there will be 150 million tobacco deaths in the first quarter of this century. (4) Philip Morris is the world's leading manufacturer of cigarettes with 13.8% of global sales. If this position is maintained, the company's products will cause 20.7 million deaths worldwide before 2050, about half in middle age.
"Honourable? I'm searching for a different word.
Below, we reprint some of Bible's inimitable "confrontations with the issues".
"I repeat, there is no such thing as "tar" in the human lung--the lung cannot be, and is not, blackened by it. The President of the American Thoracic Society has testified, and I quote: "I know of no way to distinguish the lungs...
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