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Philip Morris USA is the United States tobacco division of Altria Group, Inc. Philip Morris USA brands include Marlboro, Virginia Slims, Benson & Hedges, Merit, Parliament, Alpine, Basic, Cambridge, Bucks, Dave's, Chesterfield, Collector's Choice, Commander, English Ovals, Lark, L&M, and Players.
On January 27, 2003, Philip Morris Companies Inc. changed its name to Altria Group, Inc. Even under this new name, Altria continues to own 100% of Philip Morris USA (abbreviated PM USA). Some view this name change as an effort by Altria to deemphasize its historical association with tobacco products.
Philip Morris USA Inc. home offices and facilities include headquarters, manufacturing, processing and support facilities in the Richmond, Virginia area; sales offices crisscrossing the U.S.; and an office in The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
Philip Morris was born in Whitechapel, United Kingdom in 1835, the son of a recent immigrant from Germany who had taken the name Bernard Morris. In 1847, the family opened a shop in London. The first cigarettes that Philip Morris made were in 1854,.
In 1902, Philip Morris & Co., Ltd. was incorporated in New York City. The company made its first cigarettes in Richmond in 1929, using an existing factory the company purchased. In 1933, this factory was racially integrated more than thirty years before the law required it. In 1938, the company offered preferred stock to ordinary buyers.
In 1924, Philip Morris began advertising Marlboros specifically to women. The cigarettes had "new cork-tip filters housed in a flip-top box with a red roof design."
In 1970, Philip Morris made the first of several acquisitions with the purchase of Miller Brewing Company. In 1985, Philip Morris Cos. became a holding company and the parent of Philip Morris Inc. and bought General Foods. The acquisition of Kraft Foods came in 1988, after which Kraft and General Foods became Kraft General Foods.
In 2001, Kraft Foods launched an IPO for 11.1% of the company that raked in $8.7 billion, making it the 2nd largest IPO in American history at the time.
In 2002, Miller Brewing and South African Breweries became SABMiller, the second-largest maker of beer in the world, though Philip Morris kept an interest in the merged company. In 2003, Philip Morris Cos. changed its name to Altria Group Inc.
In the fall of 2003, Philip Morris USA moved its headquarters from New York City to Richmond, Virginia. On March 30, 2007, the remaining 88.9% stake in Kraft Foods was spun off to share holders. Philip Morris International was split from Philip Morris USA in March 2008. This has caused a drop in the needed cigarette production due to no need for export product. Philip Morris shut down its Concord, North Carolina manufacturing facility in 2010 and moved all domestic production to Richmond, which now contains the largest Philip Morris plant in the world, producing 146 billion cigarettes in 2010.
Philip Morris takes issue with the strict tobacco restrictions in place within the nation of Uruguay, and is taking legal action against the country claiming around $25 million USD in lost revenues opposing the rule demanding 80% of cigarette packets be covered in health warnings, and restricting all brands of cigarette to only be able to sell one variety. The nation has seen tobacco sales drop 30% attributed to these relatively tough measures by the Uruguayan government.
Other similar complaints by Philip Morris have been made against Norway and Australia.
These actions are unprecedented because tobacco companies are often the targets of lawsuits, and not the instigators so how these complaints are decided may be important in how governments try to curb smoking rates; a habit which leads to huge economic damage due to morbidity and mortality worldwide, as well as health problems.
Swiss tobacco control advocates and alumni from the University of Geneva revealed the secret ties of Ragnar Rylander (see French Wikipedia), professor of environmental health, to the tobacco industry. In a public statement made in 2001, Pascal Diethelm and Jean-Charles Rielle accused Rylander of being "secretly employed by Philip Morris" and qualified of "scientific fraud without precedent" the concealment of his links with the tobacco industry for a period of 30 years, during which he publicly presented himself as an independent scientist, while obeying orders given by Philip Morris executives and lawyers, publishing articles and organizing symposia which denied or trivialized the toxicity of secondhand smoke. After a long trial, which went up to the supreme court of Switzerland, all accusations were found to be true. Following this judgment, the University of Geneva prohibited its members from soliciting research subsidies or direct or indirect consultancies with the tobacco industry.