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Student Pens Petition To Sever Smeal’s Corporate Partnership With Altria

Penn State student Patrick Cines is calling his peers to action.

On his personal blog, he wrote a post titled “Why I Don’t Want Altria’s Money.” Altria is the parent company of Philip Morris USA and it is the largest producer of tobacco products in the country. Altria is also a partner of the Smeal College of Business, where Cines is a student. He penned a petition calling for Smeal Dean Charles Whiteman to not allow Altria to continue its corporate partnership with the college, citing the ethical issues of promoting tobacco.

Altria’s presence in the Business Building is on a similar level to other corporate partners, but Cines notes this shouldn’t be a business decision. “Yes, we’re in some budgetary straits, but at the end of the day, the money should not matter,” he said. “It’s a matter of doing what’s right and showing what we stand for as an institution.”

He also explained this isn’t the first time a petition like this has been proposed. “Several times in the past, the issue of Altria’s partnership has been brought up both with the current and past Deans of the business college as well as within the college among faculty, but nothing has ever resulted,” he said. This time, social media and an online petition are playing key roles in the petition’s success, as Cines says current professors and alumni have supported it and spread the word. Additionally, he says students should get involved because of the partnership’s contradictions with the college’s identity.

“I think that’s the most important aspect of all of this,” he said. “Think about what we stand for and think about our values as a college. We set the bar so high when we consider ethical behavior, integrity, honor, and corporate social responsibility, yet we choose to look the other way when it comes to corporate donations. Altria creates a product that has no safe use, gets people addicted, and kills hundreds of thousands of people every year. I know that those actions do not embody what it means to be a member of the Smeal College of Business community and I hope my fellow students, faculty, and staff realize it too.”

Here’s the link to the petition, which you can read in full below:

To: Dean Charles Whiteman
Smeal College of Business
The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA

We, the members of the Smeal College of Business community, petition Dean Charles Whiteman to discontinue our corporate relationship with Altria, Phillip Morris USA, and its other subsidiaries. As a college who prides itself and advocates a high level of ethics, integrity, and corporate social responsibility, we fundamentally can no longer accept money and promote a company whose core products cannot be used safely. There is no safe way to use cigarettes. It has been scientifically proven time and time again that cigarette smoking causes lung and laryngeal cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke, and much worse.

I request that Dean Charles Whiteman not allow Altria to renew their membership with the Smeal College of Business Career & Corporate Connections Office or give any funds to the college for the purposes of elevated branding, networking events, communication with students, and recognition in the Career & Corporate Connections Office. Altria may continue to recruit at career fair events, but without the “premier” treatment it has received in the past and without any type of elevated branding.

About the Author

Doug Leeson

Doug is a sophomore and Onward State's Assistant Managing Editor. Dislikes: popcorn, Rutgers, and a low #TimberCount. Likes: "Frozen," Rec Hall, and you. Contact him via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @DougLeeson.


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