'Please stop your unctuous public drivel': Critics spar with Salzman after Cannes controversy

'Stop trying to rationalize your evil,' another user told her.

Twitter users are criticizing Philip Morris International comms head Marian Salzman after a backlash to the tobacco company’s event this week at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

Some Twitter users have directed their anger at Salzman, SVP of global communications, voicing their outrage at the company and the message she is helping it to produce while it also markets cigarettes in some countries outside the U.S. Since Salzman joined PMI last April, she has supported what the company describes as its commitment to a smoke-free future. PMI has said products such as vapes and e-cigarettes will eventually replace cigarettes in some markets.

Some people aren’t having it.

Salzman responded on Friday, tweeting that people have "every right to challenge PMI; you have no right to insult me or my team."

Personal attacks against PMI employees on social media are common, the company’s VP of strategic and scientific communications, Moira Gilchrist, said via email.

"These distract from the important conversation on how to encourage the millions of men and women who would otherwise continue to smoke to instead switch to a smoke-free alternative," she said. "Some anti-tobacco organizations are more focused on hating us than helping smokers."

Salzman did not comment specifically on the personal attacks when reached for comment, but instead emailed the following statement about PMI’s activation at Cannes: "We went to Cannes Lions to talk and listen. Quit Big Tobacco told people to stay away from us and failed. But it’s a new day, with new conversations and a product that is a better alternative to cigarettes. We were challenged to do better and now we have."

Asked about its placement in the Good track at Cannes, she added that PMI was "not in any track as far as I know. This is not something we asked for."

Quit Big Tobacco said in an emailed statement that it did not ask attendees at Cannes to avoid PMI's events nor did the organization's campaign target any individual employee of PMI.
This story was updated on June 25 with comment from Quit Big Tobacco.

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