Feb. 9, 2007 -- It’s a pleasure to join President Casteen, Tom Farrell, Gordon Rainey and members of the Board of Visitors here on grounds today to announce a significant deepening of the partnership between Philip Morris USA and the University of Virginia.
The history of our Commonwealth has been closely intertwined with tobacco since the first days of Jamestown. Tobacco has played and continues to play an important role in Virginia’s economy.
However, regardless of the economic impact, we can not ignore the fact that cigarette smoking is addictive and cause serious diseases. This presents a dilemma for those of us involved in the tobacco industry and the Commonwealth.
For many years, Philip Morris USA has been working to reduce the harm associated with our products by investing in scientific research, youth smoking prevention and cessation support programs. We also know that important research in many of these fields has been going on at the University of Virginia.
When the University approached us to ask for support of this campaign, I realized we had the opportunity to bring together the resources of two leading Virginia institutions who are also national leaders in our fields to try to solve some of the complex problems related to smoking.
Philip Morris USA and the University of Virginia are announcing a $25 million partnership that we believe has the potential to reduce the harm caused by smoking.
The majority of the funds, approximately $20 million, will support research and projects at the University intended to reduce the harm caused by smoking, help prevent youth smoking, improve the effectiveness of smoking cessation efforts and provide support for independent evaluation of Philip Morris USA programs in these focus areas.
The remaining $5 million will support the expansion of Philip Morris USA’s relationship with the McIntire School of Commerce.
We are excited about the opportunities this partnership presents and the support it will provide to some of the world’s leading researchers. We commend President Casteen, Dr. Garson and Dean Zeithaml for their interest in addressing these important social issues. We recognize that the work involved will be difficult and could be controversial, but we are optimistic that the rewards delivered by this initiative will make the hard work all the more worthwhile. We are proud to be able to play a constructive role in this campaign, and to deepen our long-standing relationship with this great University.