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Marlboro boss says quitting cigarette's easy
I've known only one person who easily gave up cigarettes. He threw his last pack away and simply stopped then and there. It truly was that simple. Of the other ex-smokers I know, quitting was a nightmare.

Perhaps it was this person that Philip Morris International's (PM) chief executive was thinking about recently when he said that it's "not that hard to quit" cigarettes. Louis Camilleri was asked about the issue at the company's annual shareholder meeting. A nurse said that one of her patients told her it was harder to quit cigarettes than crack, cocaine or methamphetamine.

Camilleri acknowledged that cigarettes are harmful and addictive. "Whilst it is addictive, it is not that hard to quit," he told the nurse. "There are more previous smokers in America today than current smokers." [Editor's Note:  More dead ones than alive ones too.]

There are flaws all over that logic. The fact that more people have quit does not mean it's easy to do so. Of the 19 million U.S. adults who tried to quit in 2005, only 4% to 7% were successful, one study showed. Huge industries have been built around the fact that people can't easily quit, offering nicotine gum, inhalers, lozenges, nasal sprays or patches for help.

Camilleri himself has only quit once, for three months when he had a cold, and is still a smoker today, the Associated Press reports.

Still, it's not that shocking that he would take this stance. The tobacco industry has fought hard against every health claim that could hurt sales. The industry hid the true dangers of smoking, and wouldn't admit for decades that cigarettes were addictive.

So of course executives would now say that cigarettes aren't hard to quit.

"It's in the interest of executives to give the impression that they don't want new smokers to take up smoking, that they believe that people who do, can quit, but the statistics tell another story," a Morningstar analyst told the Associated Press.

But Camilleri is partly right: There are more ex-smokers in this country than there are smokers. That has led Philip Morris to look overseas for new growth, focusing on emerging markets.

And that's turned out to be a smart move. Philip Morris' profit rose 14.5% last year as its net revenue, excluding excise taxes, rose 8.7%. The company's stock price has been on fire in the last year, going from $46 last May to $68.14 this afternoon. money.msn.com

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