Philip Morris International, the world’s largest multinational tobacco company, has been accused of a “shameful publicity stunt” by a leading campaigner after it donated ventilators to the Greek government as coronavirus infections mount in the country.
Evidence suggests that smokers are more likely to suffer a severe form of the disease than non-smokers.
A PMI executive said that the company’s Greek affiliate Papastratos had sourced and paid for the ventilators in order to help “flatten the curve”. Stavros Drakoularakos, PMI’s director of communications for Greece, tweeted the news and said he was “sky-high proud” of the move and described it as “proof of what sheer will and collaboration between all can achieve”.
Papastratos donated 50 ventilators for use in Greek hospitals, including 19 to intensive care units at the Sotiria General Hospital of Thoracic Diseases in Athens. There are 1,156 confirmed cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, in Greece as of Wednesday afternoon. Thirty-eight people have died.
Vasilis Kikilias, the health minister, thanked the cigarette company for its donation.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, criticised PMI’s motives. “This is a shameful publicity stunt by Philip Morris International, which owns Papastratos and has a 40% share of the Greek tobacco market,” she said.