The off again/on again should-we-let-her-in Amy Winehouse visa saga is...on again! At the 11th hour the US embassy over in GB rubber stamped her so that Ms. Winehouse will - if she chooses - be able to participate in Sundays 50th Grammy ceremonies. There was no official word as to why she originally got the thumbs down, but I would bet it had something to do with her most recent stab at taking the cure after a nineteen minute toke video she starred in was leaked to the UK media.
Ironically, Louis C. Camilleri will have no trouble getting his visa stamped when he leaves the country for Switzerland. Mr. Camilleri is the current CEO of Altria Group which is the parent company of Philip Morris which is the largest tobacco company in the US. And the US is the largest exporter of manufactured cigarettes on the planet, accounting for nearly 20 percent of the world total.
Why is Mr. Camilleri going to Switzerland? Because Altria Group is about to split off PMI - the Phillip Morris International unit - from its domestic parent. The move - according to the Wall St. Journal - is being made to free the tobacco giant's international operations of legal and public-relations headaches in the U.S. that have hindered its growth. And out from under the yolk of oppressive U.S. regulations and lawsuits there's plenty of growing to be done. Currently overseas 5.2 Trillion cigarettes are sucked down each year. In 2006 PMI out earned Philip Morris USA with revenue of $48.26 billion to $18.47 billion for its domestic sibling. And without that pesky PC health crowd monkey on their backs PMI can start slinging some clever new smokes like the Marlboro Intense. About an inch shorter than a regular Marlboro, this high potency cigarette is designed to be fast-smoked by the tobacco addict forced outside into the cold and/or rain by indoor smoking bans. Or, how about the Marlboro Mix 9? High-nicotine, high-tar. 'Cause I guess just shooting yourself in the head doesn't kill you quick enough. And if you still don't think smoking is suicide, the WHO predicts 10 million people a year will die of smoking-related illness by 2030 making it the single leading cause of death worldwide.
Now, clearly, the US can't truly stop Camilleri from leaving the country or PMI from setting up shop in Fencesit-zerland. Smoking tobacco is, after all, legal. But if a guy who makes bank selling cancer is free to travel, comparatively the Gov shouldntve been dithering over Winehouse's entry 'cause she might guzzle a little Cristal and trash a hotel room.
Unless, of course, she kills ten million people in the process.