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The drumbeat of anti-tobacco initiatives may be audible in the Philip Morris Cos. board room.

In a surprising announcement, the $60 billion tobacco and food marketer acknowledged its board is examining a proposal to split the company into separate food and tobacco businesses.

The terse statement offered no elaboration, save the promise that "when and if any disclosure is warranted, we will make an appropriate announcement."

But the possibility of a Philip Morris split was only one in a series of tobacco-related events last week.

A way to help healthcare

Sen. Bill Bradley (D., N.J.) suggested eliminating the tax deductibility for advertising tobacco as a means to help finance national healthcare. He said scrapping the deduction might raise $1 billion and lessen the need for cutting Medicare.

Threat of boycotts

INFACT, a consumer activist group based in Boston, said it would start a nationwide boycott April 19 of Philip Morris, its subsidiaries and all their products, and threatened the same against RJR Nabisco.

Know your ingredients

Philip Morris USA bought three-quarter-page ads in six major newspapers April 14 to publicly announce the release of a list of previously undisclosed ingredients that are added to cigarettes. Philip Morris was among six cigarette marketers to release the list of 599 ingredients, and its ads carried the headline "We want you to know."

"The recent unauthorized release and distorted treatment by the media of some cigarette ingredients have created the impression that certain ingredients added to tobacco during the manufacturing process may be hazardous," said the ad, prepared by Young & Rubicam, New York. "This is absolutely untrue."

National Public Radio a week earlier identified 13 ingredients, taken from a comprehensive list of ingredients furnished annually on a confidential basis to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

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