Philip Morris’s Latest Prank: Cigarettes & Gambling

Philip Morris is actively promoting its products in tobacco shops by giving away a “gratta e vinci”—a scratch card lottery ticket—worth 5.00 euro to everyone who buys a carton of Marlboros “Gold Touch” for 41.00 euro.

At the same time, Italy’s Democratic Party is presenting a bill that would make it obligatory to include health warnings, like those printed on cigarette packs, on all «gratta e vinci» cards to warn consumers on the risks they run with gambling.

Here are a few examples:

“Gambling creates strong dependency.”

“Excessive gambling can lead to poverty.”

“This game can damage your health.”

“Protect your family, do not play excessively.”

“Your doctor can help you stop gambling…”

Can a scratch card ticket be as harmful as a pack of cigarettes? Yes… the dangers are of a different kind, but just as serious. This is why it is necessary to stress the warnings on the risks of gambling addiction, both for the pockets and for the health of the citizens.

And this is what the Partito Democratico is asking for when it presented the bill at Palazzo Madama, signed first by Senator Colomba Mongiello, to add warning labels to instant lottery tickets; the warning would cover at least 20% of the ticket’s surface.

Senator Colomba Mongiello

Senator Colomba Mongiello, Partito Democratico

In the meantime, Philip Morris has come up with this explosive combination: cigarettes plus gambling. The final consumer who buys ten packs of its Marlboro cigarettes is also given the chance to gamble for 5.00 euro. For a habitual player, this is like cash; for those who do not gamble, it is a way to begin.

Moreover, if on ten packs of Marlboro Gold Touch that cost 41.00 euro, they give back 5.00 euro, they have effectively lowered the cost of the cigarettes to 3.60 euro, below the level of the minimum price.

Philip Morris is getting around the law on the minimum price of cigarettes and everyone pretends not to see it. Besides breaking the law, what Philip Morris is doing is outrageous.

What would have happened if Yesmoke, instead of bringing up a lawsuit for the abolition of the minimum price, had attached to every carton of Yesmokes costing 38.00 euro a gas coupon giving away 5 euro worth of petrol, certainly less harmful than gambling with scratch cards?

What is the AAMS doing? What are the fiscal authorities of the Guardia di Finanza doing? Italy, rather than a tranquil Nordic democracy, is more like a country of the third world, violent and backward, where the local bosses are not bound by the law, and no one speaks up.

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