Friday, December 8, 2023

No one is sad to see cigarettes die

The headline reads (WSJ): "Hugh Cullman, Longtime Philip Morris Executive Who Loved and Defended the Tobacco Business, Dies at 100" 

The tobacco industry is in kind of bad shape right now. Since vaping became a big thing, the industry is doing terribly. Comparing the tobacco industry's market capitalization to the overall market shows an industry sputtering towards death. 

Running on fumes

Cullman was a big proponent of smoking. He hasn't ran Philip Morris for a while, but when he did, he was brazen and amoral. 

“Today, tolerance for my smoking may be under attack,” he said in a 1985 speech to a group of Black newspaper publishers, according to prepared remarks. “Tomorrow it may be tolerance for someone else’s right to pray or choose a place to live.”

Uh... what? Cullman is very blatantly gaslighting them here. Cullman was the architect of a decades long collusion scheme of the tobacco industry to fight anti-tobacco research which was found illegal in 2006. This learning was inspired by something I learned a few days ago, when British American Tobacco wrote down the value of its acquired brands Camel and Newport by $31.5B. This is related to yesterday's note about M&A, too. BAT bought those brands for $49B, meaning that essentially 2/3 of that acquisition's value was destroyed. Good, in my opinion. 

I hope all these tobacco firms fail. They seem doomed, anyway. Philip Morris tried to expand into healthcare, trying not to die. That seems to have failed. The FDA wants to ban menthol cigarettes, which it says are worse than regular old cigarettes. They constitute 1/3 of the cigarette market. 

I really do not shed any tears for the death of these tobacco firms. Even business journalists seem really unexcited writing about them. It is not even like the oil and gas industry, which people still manage to have lively debate about. Anyone with a brain seems happy to see this industry go. I hope they, and their wretched past, stay in the past.