Philip Morris International appoints Julie Soderlund as director of regulatory comms

Philip Morris International has appointed Arnold Schwarzenegger's former press secretary to its top comms and lobbying role, following scrutiny of its public affairs activities.

Tobacco company: faces public affairs scrutiny
Tobacco company: faces public affairs scrutiny
The global tobacco company that manufactures seven of the top 15 cigarette brands including Marlboro has appointed Julie Soderlund as its director of regulatory comms.

The news comes as plans for cigarettes to be sold in plain packets, and also to be hidden from display in shops, are currently under discussion in the UK. Philip Morris hit the headlines last month when it was revealed that Tory health minister Earl Howe had canvassed the company's lobbyists about complaints from an anti-smoking campaign group.

Soderlund will move to Philip Morris’ head office in Lausanne, Switzerland from Sacramento, California, where she is a partner at Wilson-Miller Communications.

She has formerly worked as press secretary for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2006 election campaign, having worked for him as deputy press secretary for three years.
Soderlund has also worked as deputy campaign manager for Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO who stood as a Republican candidate in 2010.

A spokesman for PMI said: ‘We can confirm that Julie Soderlund has been appointed director regulatory communications for Philip Morris International, but cannot provide you with any further details.'

Last month, it was revealed that Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) wrote to Howe to warn that the tobacco industry was using a series of legal manoeuvres to wreck plans for cigarettes to be sold in plain packets. But instead of responding directly to Ash, Howe forwarded the letter to Gardant, the Westminster lobbying firm representing Philip Morris, requesting its input.

Philip Morris in Australia has just launched a legal challenge against new laws in the country that will force tobacco products to be sold in dull, plain packaging.

It is believed that Soderlund will replace existing director of regulatory comms Morgan Rees, although Philip Morris would not confirm this.

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