Altria to Conduct an Equity and Civil Rights Assessment
January 12 2023 - 09:00AM
- Altria will conduct an equity and civil rights assessment
following the passage of a 2022 shareholder proposal.
- Assessment to be led by Altria and overseen by an independent
external advisory review board consisting of third-party members
who possess relevant expertise.
- Assessment plan informed by recent shareholder engagement.
- A comprehensive third-party assured report will be published
approximately 12 months after the assessment commences.
Altria Group, Inc. (NYSE: MO) today announces that we will
conduct an equity and civil rights assessment (Assessment). The
Assessment follows last year’s passage of a shareholder proposal
recommending Altria commission a civil rights equity audit and
seeks to address feedback received from recent robust shareholder
engagement. We believe the Assessment will identify opportunities
to accelerate progress toward our 2025 Corporate Responsibility
focus area goals, enhance stakeholder alignment and promote
Consistent with our prior commitments and efforts in these
areas, the Assessment will review our policies, practices, programs
and services intended to address the harm associated with tobacco
use and the effectiveness of our harm reduction efforts, including
underage tobacco use prevention programs, tobacco cessation
support, responsible marketing practices and regulatory engagement
and public policy. The Assessment will include an evaluation of
these policies, practices, programs and services on communities of
color and youth, as well as our inclusion, diversity and equity
The Assessment, which our Board of Directors (Board) has
authorized, will be led by Altria and overseen by an external
advisory review board consisting of third-party, independent
members who possess relevant expertise in fields such as civil
rights, ID&E, legal/law enforcement, public policy, public
health and youth development. The external advisory review board
will advise on and oversee the Assessment, including the scope,
stakeholder engagement and, ultimately, the presentation of the
findings in a published report, which will be subject to assurance
by a third-party firm. We will continue to prioritize our
long-standing robust stakeholder engagement approach throughout the
Assessment. We intend to seek input from key stakeholders, such as
investors, shareholder proponents, employees, customers, suppliers,
community partners, policy makers and civil rights organizations.
Our Board’s Nominating, Corporate Governance and Social
Responsibility Committee, which is comprised entirely of
independent directors, will provide Board-level oversight of the
The Assessment design takes into consideration emerging
practices for these types of audits, potential risks and the
potential benefits to Altria and our shareholders from the
Assessment as we pursue our Vision. Because the topics raised in
the shareholder proposal are subject to active and pending
litigation involving our companies’ tobacco products, the
Assessment plan considers mitigating litigation risk while
including extensive third-party perspective and oversight.
Furthermore, the Assessment is intended to address the concerns
raised by the shareholder proponents. We believe the structure of
the Assessment mitigates potential risks with alternative forms of
assessments, while being responsive to the shareholder vote.
In the second half of 2022, we contacted our top 30 shareholders
– representing approximately 43% of our outstanding shares – to
seek their views concerning the requested civil rights equity audit
and our proposed approach to conducting the Assessment. We met with
all shareholders that accepted our request to meet. The feedback we
received from these investors helped inform our approach to the
Assessment and confirmed our belief that the Assessment is
responsive to the shareholder vote.
We plan to post on altria.com a report discussing the results of
the Assessment within approximately 12 months from when we begin
We have a leading portfolio of tobacco products for U.S. tobacco
consumers age 21+. Our Vision by 2030 is to responsibly lead the
transition of adult smokers to a smoke-free future (Vision). We are
Moving Beyond Smoking™, leading the way in moving adult smokers
away from cigarettes by taking action to transition millions to
potentially less harmful choices – believing it is a substantial
opportunity for adult tobacco consumers, our businesses and
Our wholly owned subsidiaries include leading manufacturers of
both combustible and smoke-free products. In combustibles, we own
Philip Morris USA Inc. (PM USA), the most profitable U.S. cigarette
manufacturer, and John Middleton Co. (Middleton), a leading U.S.
cigar manufacturer. Our smoke-free portfolio includes ownership of
U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company LLC (USSTC), the leading global
moist smokeless tobacco (MST) manufacturer, and Helix Innovations
LLC (Helix), a leading manufacturer of oral nicotine pouches.
Additionally, we have a majority-owned joint venture, Horizon
Innovations LLC (Horizon), for the U.S. marketing and
commercialization of heated tobacco stick products and, through a
separate agreement, we have the exclusive U.S. commercialization
rights to the IQOS Tobacco Heating System® and Marlboro HeatSticks®
through April 2024.
Our equity investments include Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV (ABI),
the world’s largest brewer, Cronos Group Inc. (Cronos), a leading
Canadian cannabinoid company, and JUUL Labs, Inc. (JUUL), a U.S.
based e-vapor company.
The brand portfolios of our tobacco operating companies include
Marlboro®, Black & Mild®, Copenhagen®, Skoal® and on!®.
Trademarks and service marks related to Altria referenced in this
release are the property of Altria or our subsidiaries or are used
Learn more about Altria at www.altria.com and follow us on
Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20230111005998/en/
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