Health warning

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The Independent Online

We knew that cigarette manufacturers are motivated, above all, by kindness. That is the main reason why they are in business. But only now have we understood the extent of their generosity. We thus owe it to Philip Morris, manufacturer of Marlboro cigarettes, for modestly acknowledging the important philanthropic role that it has played.

The company notes that so many smokers die early in the Czech Republic that cigarettes save the state around £100m a year. As Philip Morris notes: "Healthcare cost savings due to mortality" are "the most important" benefit of cigarette smoking. In short: "Without us, think how many old people's homes you would have to fill."

A great conclusion. We understand that the rats that brought the Black Death have been posthumously decorated for services to humanity. We now hope that Philip Morris, in its striving for a Better Life for All, will scrap its lower-risk, low-tar cigarettes. Above all, we feel that the advertising, which is sometimes needlessly oblique, should be more direct. We suggest a slogan along the lines of: "Do everybody a favour! Smoke Marlboro! Die early!"

Not just generous – but honest, too.