Raising the Costs of A Habit


Ardeshir Ommani
by Ardeshir Ommani

Altria Group is the leading cigarette maker in the U.S. The stock of the company rose 20% in 2011's depressed markets and it's up 50% over the past two years, nearly four times the market's gain. About two weeks ago, the stock of the company, which is the parent of Philip Morris USA and that of the Marlboro brand hit a 52-week high of $36.40.

The rise in its stock price is influenced by the company's stable cash flow and a dividend yield of 5.5%. At the time when money market rates are less than 0.5%, and the 10-year Treasury is yielding less than 2%, the stocks of Altria Group attracts all the attention of the investors who do not ask how many smokers would die this year because of addiction and succumbing to lung cancer. It is worth noting that on Dec. 23, 2011, from Richmond, Virginia, Altria's operating companies launched 'Citizens for Tobacco Rights', a nation-wide website to assist the tobacco companies in promoting lowering taxes on cigarette sales.

Although U.S. cigarette sales have been in a severe long-term decline, to be exact, its shipments dropped by a third over the past 10 years, the industry has been able to offset the volume decline with increases in wholesale prices. Naturally after addicting a large segment of the youth around the world, the owners of Altria Corporation are led to raise the cost of their habits and suffering.

The companies have raised cigarette prices by nearly 35% over the last 10 years, even as smokers shouldered huge jumps in federal and state cigarette taxes. Altogether retail prices and additional taxes hiked the cost of a pack to $5.95. This was more than double the rise in overall consumer prices. This shows that the high rates of profitability in addictive substances is the ideal method of exploiting not only the workers, but also the consumers. The change in the demographics of cigarette addicts has forced the industry to intensify the rate of exploitation of those who can least afford the habit in a long period of economic stress and high rates of unemployment.

The captains of the stock market seem unshaken. The stocks look rich based on their double-digit price per earning ratios. The high rates of profitability in the industry have led the management to implement the strategy of stock buybacks and huge stock awards for management compensation.

Altria, by far the biggest U.S. cigarette maker in both market weight ($61 billion ) and revenue-wise (over $16 billion a year) is the biggest culprit in spreading addiction and physical infirmity. A substantial share of the company profits are generated outside the U.S. Philip Morris International, a subsidiary of Altria, sells Philip Morris brand lineups in about 180 countries around the world. In other words, the men, women and more frequently, elementary-aged children – at the cost of their lives – are providing these gentlemen in New York and Chicago with lavish life-styles. (Looking at just a few of the advertisements in major corporate newspapers as the Financial Times, New York Times, The Telegraph, etc. directed at this wealthy 1%, we see a woman's handbag selling for $4,000.00)

In 2009, Altria purchased the smokeless-tobacco producer UST, which makes Copenhagen and Skoal brands at the cost of $11.7 billion. The reason Altria shouldered such a high cost price is that smokeless tobacco is a much-less regulated part of the worldwide cigarette market. Lack of regulations leaves the smokers at the mercy of the tobacco industry. Altria generates in an average $3.5 billion a year in cash flow, most of which ends in the investor's bank accounts in the form of dividends and interests and conspicuous consumption.

As a group, cigarette smokers have lower household incomes than non-smokers and are nearly twice as likely to be unemployed, says a financial officer of Morgan Stanley, a banking corporation. Studies have shown that in communities with higher economic status, its members send their children to better-financed public schools and private universities where environmental sciences and healthier life-styles are emphasized in the educational curriculum from early grade school through university level. Anti-smoking campaigns partially financed by higher city and state budgets are more predominant on expensive billboards in these higher income communities.

On average a member of this lower economic class spends more than $2,000.00 annually, smoking a pack a day, the amount that could be allocated towards the present and future sustenance. Smokers, in their attempts to halt casting a large amount of money to the rich, many have traded down to either cheaper cigarettes or bulk tobacco for rolling their own cigarettes. For this reason, shipments of roll-your-own and pipe tobacco jumped 30% in the first half of 2011. In the brave new world, particularly the Facebook generation age 21 through 29 is no longer fascinated with that rugged cowboy who was for many decades the symbol of Marlboro.

Alongside Altria in the tobacco market stand such giants as Reynolds American, maker of Camel and Pall Mall as well as Natural Spirit brands selling the ugly and more hazardous chewing tobacco brands. To entice new smokers or keep the old ones in the loop, the cigarette companies constantly hatch out new names with new packets. Recently, Philip Morris USA came up with what it calls the "Marlboro Leadership Program" which puts a price cap on what the retailers can charge for a pack of Marlboro in return for promotional incentives, such as a free pack for every carton sold.

While in the U.S., after years of public pressure, the federal and state governments have imposed some restrictions on advertising and marketing tobacco products, the same companies in the markets of the developing countries promote and glamorize smoking among school children, going so far as to distribute free packs of cigarettes along the pathways leading to schools, the way they did just a few decades ago in the run-down parts of the big cities and the depressed small towns across the U.S. Also, the ruling classes of the countries whose economies are dependent on the U.S. and its' partners benefit from such relations through providing lucrative markets for the tobacco products of the major international cigarette producers.

It is telling that the gains posted by these tobacco companies in 2011 was skyrocketing when few other stocks were thriving last year. A group of mutual fund managers who tried to avoid negative performance by the end of the year resorted to placing the shares of several tobacco firms among their top holdings. Gains of more than 20% among the addiction enablers helped these funds outperform their rivals and attracted the moderate savings and the retirement funds of the employed and retired working class. Such is the political economy of the habit-forming industry, addiction of the oppressed and higher rates of profitability.

Writer: Ardeshir Ommani is a writer on issues of war, peace, U.S. foreign policy and economic issues. He has two Masters Degrees in the fields of Political Economy and Mathematics Education. Contact Info: Ardeshiromm@optonline.net


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Dr. Mohandes


by Dr. Mohandes on

You should perhaps consider walking and leave all the running to your maty mate! Just think about it man, what if something goes awry and you drop on thae floor...there is no mrs. faramarz khanoom to come and throw her...things on you and take good care of you.

what will happen to this site then ha? have you given that some thought dude?

Hmm...somebody is messing with me while i am typing...could it be somebody eeezz vvaachheeeeng me... LOL?



Doctor Mohandes

by Faramarz on

I am as single as a dollar bill!

I had to leave last night to get some Hungry Man frozen food from the super market that's why I had to cut my comments short.

I am going to run as the president of NIAC in the next election and Mr. Shervin Lalezary (LAPD) will be my deputy! 

Isn't that a winning team or what?

Dr. Mohandes

Ayaayyyy Ayyy...

by Dr. Mohandes on

Souri jan

Did you notice how Faramarz khan left your Bold and Transparen question, Inquiring about Mr. Faramarz's Marital life Unanswered???!!! How are we going to Justify such a deliberate Non-Information Tactic By This gentleman? How? How? I Akkss you!! dehe!

Of course we could also approach the issue another way:

Awooooo...Ti jaana goorban Faramarz jan. To ozdovaj bovostee??

Zan bavordi?? (One more time) Ti jane goorban!

Which begs the question... How can he in such an old age, with hair going gray or white or falling like tree leaves in autumn:) , with his need for a new set of dentures (possibly going azheezhamm...mibini ke dandoon nadaramm..hala ye maashh rad kon biad beenam) , with eye sight growing dimmer by the day, and all this mess...

put a nice and lively smile on anyone's face...akhey...

Faramarz: I was hoping that by reconfirming these nasty things about your appearance, i would give you an idea about your next upcoming action/adventure Blog! I don't know. can you somehow mix the lonely drone, The story of the well (and its sole resident), and your growing old together and come up with something juicy?


Faramarz for The world President! 
Hezab faghat dollar va arz! rahbar faghat Faramarz!


You didn't get my point

by Souri on

The point is: First learn to respect the people, then talk about the idoelogy.

Nobody asks/needs you to accept Communism (or Islam for that matters)

But when you call them, khar and gaav and olagh and mostarah ...and ....and...
Think of the people who  deserve your respect (the utmost respect, indeed) and for any reason, they have been following those ideologies.

Same goes for Takhti and Islam, for your parents and Islam, for your best friends and Islam....etc, etc...

Do you dare to  say that Takhti was an olaagh because he was a good and devoted Muslim?

If your answer is : Yes, then it is obvious that I have nothing more to say to you.



Idealogy should stand on its own, not List of followers

by IranFirst on

Just because some Iranian intellectuals and artists believed in some
spectrum of left (from liberalism to Communism) at some point in their
lives does not make the IDEOLOGY right. Its like saying because some of
Iran's Heroes (like Takhti for example) believed in Ali , that makes
ISLAM right. Iranian heroes and artists are dear , but that does not
automatically mean that we all HAVE TO agree with their political
views.There are many good people that have followed many wrong (proven wrong in
practice) ideologies . Off course some of them have changed their minds
once they saw the wrong in that ideology. Communism has been rejected by
many/all societies who suffered under it and then had the FREE choice to get rid of it (with exceptions
of such places like N. Korea and Cuba, where people have no free
choice). All ideologies/religions should be open to debate and
criticism in a future free Iran . It will be the free market of ideas
and the
people will CHOOSE what is best for them (without violating the rights
of others). Exposing Islam is not attacking all Muslims individually
(most Muslims are the first victims of Islam, except he ones who have
killed for Islam). Criticising Communism is not attacking its followers

A as Abbas

I would like to know...

by A as Abbas on

Where is it that Ardeshir Ommani talks or writes about executing opposition figures?  I have done some Google search, including a quick look at his Archive here, but the only thing that I have found so far is that he supposedly said this in August of 2009 and it was in Farsi, but I have not seen the actual text, or the words of it, yet.

I appreciate a link or a copy-and-paste direct quote.  Thank you.



by Souri on

This would be a very good exercise.

In each equation, for the Toudehy, put the names like: Beh-Azin, Siavash Kasraaee, Hooshang Ebtehaaj, Ahamd Shaamloo, Nima Youshij, Mehdi Akhavan-Sales, Ehsan Tabari and Khosrow Rouzbeh.

Then look at the mirror to see your  face.

Oon Yaroo

Faramarz jaan, answer the SAT, GRE, GMAT, LSAT Analogy Question?

by Oon Yaroo on

The relationship between Islam and Toudeh  is like ........to..........!

a) Olagh to Gavv

b) Goosphand to Boze

c)  Shotor to Morgh

d) Mostarah to Crapper


The answer is....!



by Hooshang Tarreh-Gol on

AH, not only I agree with you, I'm also going to submit your text to the "Fanglish Encyclopedia!" I think I understood what you meant, not sure about others.

Souri jan, in my humble opinion the issue of social justice and equality is a lot more than any ideology per se; and it defintely has a lot more supporters than just communists. The Left (althought it has a great history of struggle for equality) by no meands has a monoploy on that social issue, and the best way to acheive social justice is usually to unite with ALL who agree on its importance, regardless of their "ideology." As I get older I myself get more and more critical of all ideologies, and more inclined towards pragmatic resolutions.

Framarz jaan, you remain one of the reasons I, your humble servant, keeps coming back here.

The other reason of course is to say hello to my "good friend" Mr. Ommani, of course! 


یک تودهی خائن دیگر..


واقعا شرم بر این خائنان که ادعای "حزب طبقه کارگر" بودن رو هم دارن. اینها قدیم‌ها حزب نوکران روسیه بودن، از وقتی‌ هم  که شوروی تموم شد، نوکری هر کس که بهشون پول بده می‌کنن، مثل این مرتیکه بی‌ شرم که جرات نمیکنه که جوابی بده به اتهام‌های سنگینی‌ که بهش اینجا داره داده می‌شه  . 

واقعا حیف قهرمان ملی‌ ما، خسرو روزبه و هزاران نفر دیگر از اعضای این حزب که به خاطر عشق به ایران و سوسیالیسم، بدست شاه و شیخ اعدام یا زیر شکنجه کشته شدن. 


Faramarz jon

by Souri on

I loved your humor,

I am wondering if you talk to your wife in this way, during the heated debates? Then she can never get really mad at you. You always make her smile, before things get out of control. Isn't it?

Wish you stay always that cool and take every thing easy and say nice poems to make people laught without hurting their ego :)



Great Souri

by Faramarz on

I couldn't quite read your reply since I am losing my eye sight due to old age. I also need hearing aid and a new set of dentures and a cane.  And the white hair is also a problem.

Did you know that Hafez lived to be 64 years old? I guess that was very old back then. That makes me much older than him, but they still let me in at my favorite Pubs!

Anahid Hojjati

Hooshang, about kargare naft

by Anahid Hojjati on

you are correct. not only kargare naft but any member of the working class who works in higher level industries falls into same categorization. also with those kargars who are not in industries like oil or machinsaazi, havapayma saazi, etc, other factors such as level of unionization can increase their awareness of their hoghooghe senfuie, siasie and ejtemaie.


You answered your question, yourself

by Souri on


IF....the communism would have been collapsed with the fall of Communism in Kremlan, then there would be no Marxism or Communism in the world. But as you (might still be able to) see, the ideology is still alive and supported by many.

Therefore, it was not a dependance of Kremlin. Kremlin did not invent Communism. They have tried to apply it. I would say, they have been doing pretty good for a long while. Now, if they failed, that doesn't mean the end of Communism.

But this is something too sophisticated for your not so inquiring mind, Faramrz. Hence : chon pir shodi.......

Good luck!

PS_ My friendship for you is still alive :)

Anahid Hojjati

Faramarz jan, techically your poem

by Anahid Hojjati on

could use more work on its vazn. you start with vazn that is not later kept up in rest of the poem. from all the poems that i have read from you, you definitely have talent but read more about "oozane oroozi" and follow them even in your poems like this so it is a practice for you. that being said, i myself need more education in the "oozane oroozi". 



by Faramarz on

If I may step out of my comfort zone of social commentary and say that to the best of my knowledge and experience, Tudeh was a pro-Kremlin communist party. As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the demise of that system, one would think that without a Soviet Union, there is no Tudeh.

How is that an old thinking? The 70-year experience with communism collapsed and this whole thing has been dead for over 20 years. What is the new Tudeh all about then?



کارگر نفت ما رهبر سرسخت ما

Hooshang Tarreh-Gol

The entire Iranian nation owes its daily existence (from the revenues generated by Oil exports) to the Iranian working class. And that's just the begining, and the most prominent financial contribution of the Iranian working class.

Although Iranian working class also includes some Faeleh and Amaleh (un-skilled manual laborers), it also encompasses millions of highly trained and educated ones.

The sociological, historical, anthropological, (however you want to describe it) fact of the matter remains that the Iranian working class is the only social force in the country that could overthrow IR through a General Strike (as it was done back in 1979).

Tudeh party has always had an incredibly reactionary leadership, but in its rank and file they have had some real gems and comrades (although we never agreed with most of their positions).

Of course when it comes to people like AO,  Kaveh Afrasiabi, and such, they make political prostitutes look like virgin saints!



OK Anahid

by Faramarz on

We let this one go since I am not sure what I am being accused of and you are not willing to say!

What did you think of the peom? Technically speaking!


چون پیر شدی حافظ از میکده بیرون آی‌


فرامرز جان، شعر شما مثل عقایدت خیلی‌ عقب افتاده و پس‌رو بود.

فکر می‌کنم که بهتره به مسائل سیاسی زیاد نپردازی چونکه فکرت یک کمی‌ دیگه پیر شده واسه این حرفها.

کامنت‌ها و نوشته‌های خیلی‌ جالبی‌ در موارد مختلف اجتماعی می‌نویسی که
همه مون هم دوست داریم، ولی‌ در مورد سیاست، از اون چه که درست نمیدونی،
صحبت نکن. برای یاد گرفتن این مطالب هم، فکر می‌کنم برای شما دیگه دیره،
چونکه فرصت زیادی داشتی که یاد بگیری که کی‌ کیه و چی‌ چیه....حالا دیگه
دیره ، بی‌ خیال تعریف‌های سیاسی باش، دوست من.

اقای عمانی، همونطور که قبلا هم گفتم، یک توده ی (دیگر) نیست و معرف حزب
توده هم نیست. ایشون فقط یک شخص اپورتونیسته. والسّلام و نامه تمام.


How this idiot was put in his Place...2009 Election

by IranFirst on


Watch how he looses the debate to this intelligent Iranian lady in a
debate in July 2009. Ommani (who can't even speak more than few
sentences, without reading from a script, in bad English) was claiming
the people in streets were only the wealthy and owned Gucci bags(his
archaic Communist training). He is proven to be a fool he is by the
Woman debater



Maybe he should work only on Cigars and other issues, politics and logic definitely are not within the realm of his brain power

Anahid Hojjati

There is no point in that

by Anahid Hojjati on

In past three years, did anything that was said in this regard, change any of your ideas? I think the answer is no so why would you think I would want to repeat the same (trying to argue with you in thi sregard) to get the same result. In life,  people come to certain political conclusions based on not only their researches but their life experiences.  I cannot change your life experiences so you have different ideas that some others have. Or do you really think that all political ideas that people hold are based on their studying books and their discussions on IC with each other not based on their life experiences?


Excusez Moi Anahid

by Faramarz on

I have no idea what you are saying. Please be clear about what you disagree with and please don't hold anything back. I can handle it and I will be the first one to say that I am wrong, if you demonstrate that I were.

Anahid Hojjati

Faramarz jan, with all due respect

by Anahid Hojjati on

You have to accept that in certain subjects, you only know some of the angles. You don't have sufficient knowledge to make such far reaching statements. some of us read your statements and some are great but you do make wrong statements. don't think that because we don't correct them, we agree with you. It is just that, sometimes people simply don't have the experiences to make different judgements and you fall into that crowd. Nothing wrong with that but believe me that your judgements are not always correct. You are right about people like Ommani but these people don't represent the whole picture as much as you would like make it so.


Hooshang Jaan

by Faramarz on

I have always had problems with the Tudeh crowd in Iran and in the west. We even had a couple of them in our own extended family. The poem is directed at them and those who were servant to Kremlin.

While the other leftist groups can talk about their struggles, their sacrifices and their mistakes when it comes to the 79 revolution, Tudeh just sat there and waited for the whole thing to be delivered to them on a tray.

p.s. I don't believe in empowering Kaargar, Fa'leh and Amaleh by putting them in the decision-making and leadership roles. They should be provided with good-paying jobs so that they can earn a living and send their kids to school.


Tiger Lily

ajab. ajaba

by Tiger Lily on

Tudehyi Doodehyi shod?



فرامرز جان،

Hooshang Tarreh-Gol

فرامرز جان، خیلی ها مرام اشتراکی را (بدون توهم نسبت به ملاها) هنوز هم قبول دارند.

مسله این "استاد ازل" فرصت طلبی محض ، و دائما "نان را به نرخ روز خوردن" است .
( برخورد "اشتراکی" سرمایه داران در حفظ و نجات سیستم مالی و بانکی ورشکسته شان اتفاقا کنجکاوی نسبت به اشتراک را بالا برده).


یک توده ای دیگر!



چو توده رخنه کند در روده

روان شود در لب افکار آلوده

شود کس طرفدار کرملین و قم

نویسد فراوان بلاگ های بیهوده

بریزد اشک تمساح برای خلق خدا

بخوابد شب و روز بیخیال و آسوده

به به و چه چه کند ز کردار ملا و تبار

بعد ازلمباندن غذا،  در حال صرف پالوده

برو جمع  کن این دکان، دستت گشته رو

که مرام اشتراکیت دفع شد از روده!


More on Mr. Ommani's background

by Hooshang Tarreh-Gol on

While Mr. Ardeshire Ommani (AO) has been known to many on IC as an aplogist of the regime, at one point in his "political career" he was actually busy "organizing" conferences with Dariush Homayon and monarchists against the mullahs. IR actually published one or two articles against him in Kayhan Havaiey.

After being recognized by IR as a "person of interest" it didn't take much time for AO to switch sides, and instead of opposing IR, starting to defend and apologise for it.

To sum up AO used to be a tudeh symapthizer initially, and an early supporter of IR. After IR attack on Tudeh he opposed IR. But after getting recognition from IR, he decided to switch sides (the price was right) and support them again.

And now that it looks like the tables are turning against IR, he's probably thinking about switching his sides again.

And what better way to "re-invent," and turn a new leaf than to start talking about Health Issues.

Mr. Ommani I challenge you to refute a single statement in here about your background. The ball is in your court.


A Couple of Old Geezers!

by Faramarz on

They are completely out of touch with the realities of Iran.

Totally irrelevant and inconsequential.

They should attend to their vegetable garden instead of getting into the Iranian debate. And why is an anti-smoking blog posted on Iranian.com?


ایادی رژیم در امریکا را بشناسید و رسوا کنید

Hooshang Tarreh-Gol

مزدوران و مراکزشان را بشناسید وتعقیب کنید آدرس و تلفن وعکس انها را به افراد وسایت های مورد اعتماد خو بفرستید
دشمنان مردم بدانند ما همه جا دنبالشان هستیم و مجازات قانونی شان حتمی است
فریبخوردها تا دیر نشده ازخامنه ای حسابت را جدا کن؛ رژیم بزودی سرنگون میشودوشما را تنها میگذارد
همه بدانند هرکس با این رژیم ماند با همین رژیم هم خواهد رفت
source video and following text is:
این سازمانها را در امریکا بشناسید و رسوا کنید
سازمانهای هوادار جمهور اسلامی که به لطف دلارهای اهدائی تهران به تبليغ
برای رژیم مستقر در ایران در امریکا فعالیت می کنند هر روز افزایش می یابد و
به همان نسبت نیز تعداد افرادی که برای کاسبی در این زمینه دکان باز
میکنند زیادتر شده است . برای کاسبی در این بحران اقتصاد کافی است يک
سازمای با عناوینی چون « صلح طلبی» و «مخالفت با جنگ» در امریکا مثلا در
گاراژ خانه راه انداخت و با چند ناسزابه امریکا و غرب نظر دولت ونزوئلا و
يا جمهوری اسلامی را جلب کرد و نانی در آورد و به و به غفلت خورد.