“Goodwill Hunting” (News & Features, May 19) made a number of errors about Altria Group and Philip Morris USA by attributing many of the companies' actions over a number of years to a single scenario planning exercise conducted by Philip Morris USA in the mid-1990s. Such exercises use scenarios to generate broad thinking about the future, some of which may lead to actions and many of which do not. Such exercises are not uncommon in the consumer-products business. Many of the actions cited predated this particular exercise or occurred more than a dozen years after its completion.
For example, Altria and its companies' support for charitable organizations in our communities dates back more than five decades. This support includes not just financial contributions, but also board service and employee volunteerism. The article correctly acknowledges the various acquisitions and spinoffs that recently occurred, our support for Food and Drug Administration regulation of tobacco products and the relocation of several corporate headquarters to Richmond. But to suggest that these actions were nothing more than an element of a comprehensive public relations plan is misleading and inaccurate.
Since their relocation, Altria and Philip Morris USA have become an integral part of Richmond's cultural and economic fabric. We're committed to helping make the communities where we live and work leading environments that attract high-quality employees and their families. In 2009, Altria and its companies donated $12.8 million in cash and in-kind contributions to 166 charitable organizations throughout Virginia. Altria Group takes great pride in the long history of involvement its companies have in the Richmond community and will continue its steadfast support of our hometown.
Vice President, Corporate Affairs
Altria Client Services