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Of all the unsavory things Mitt Romney's Bain was involved in, this has to rank near the top.
On Friday April 2, 1993, Philip Morris stunned Wall Street and tobacco experts by the slashing price on its flagship Marlboro brand by 40 cents a pack, to $1.80. It was a landmark day for the tobacco industry, one that became known as "Marlboro Friday" to public health experts.
The radical move was deemed by top Philip Morris executives as necessary based in part on more than two years of Bain research. Marlboro sales were slumping amid pressure from an expanding discount cigarette market, and the prospect of higher cigarette taxes had the company concerned about long-term profitability.
That price drop was soon echoed by R.J. Reynolds for its Camels brand. And Phillip Morris saw sales, and its stock prices, soar with the new pricing strategy. But what also soared with these cheap cigarettes was teen smoking rate. The Centers for Disease Control "found that the portion of young people who had smoked at least one cigarette in the previous month rose nearly 20 percent from 1993 to 1997," and more kids were smoking in all categories, from occasional smoking to multiple-packs a day addiction.
And it was Bain research, conducted while Mitt Romney was CEO, that led Phillip Morris to make its product more available to everyone, including kids. Because the health of the nation's kids can't get in the way of a profit.
Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Tue Oct 16, 2012 at 09:45 AM PDT.