The classic advice for how to succeed in business is: “Build a better mousetrap.” But that’s so old fashioned. These days there are plenty of other alternatives, including “Make your competitor’s mousetrap illegal.”
That’s the method favored recently by Altria’s Phillip Morris group, which has been a big supporter of a bill promoted by Senator Ted Kennedy and Congressman Henry Waxman to increase regulations on tobacco. If its surprising that Phillip Morris would be a big supporter of a bill promoted by lawmakers who claim they are cracking down on Big Tobacco, well that’s probably because you don’t pay much attention to how lawmaking works down in Washington, DC.
Of course, it would be a public scandal if lawmakers actually made all cigarettes not manufactured by Phillip Morris illegal. That would be way too obvious. So instead of making all outlawing all the other proverbial mousetraps, this bill just makes advertising mousetraps illegal.
How does that help Phillip Morris? Washington Examiner columnist Tim Carney explains:
This bill would also further restrict tobacco advertisements, possibly even banning all cigarette ads — another way the government could help Philip Morris. Studies find that cigarette ads do much more to sway brand choice of smokers than to make new smokers or cause smokers to buy more cigarettes.
If there were never another cigarette ad in America, the primary effect would be locking current market share in place. Two of every five cigarettes sold in a store in America is a Marlboro. Philip Morris’ other brands account for about 10 percent of that market, giving Philip Morris more than half of the U.S. retail market, not counting Internet sales, according to the company.
[Disclosure note: Tim Carney is the brother of DealBreaker's editor, John Carney.]
Philip Morris wins with Kennedy, Waxman bill against ‘Big Tobacco [Examiner.com]