Altria Group, Inc. | Civil Rights Audit at Altria Group, Inc.

30.77% votes in favour
AGM date
Previous AGM date
Proposal number
Resolution details
Company ticker
Resolution ask
Conduct due diligence, audit or risk/impact assessment
ESG theme
  • Social
ESG sub-theme
  • Diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI)
Type of vote
Shareholder proposal
Filer type
Company sector
Consumer Staples
Company HQ country
United States
Resolved clause
RESOLVED: Shareholders of Altria, Inc. (“Altria”) request that the Board of Directors commission a third-party civil rights equity audit to review its corporate policies, practices, products and services, above legal and regulatory matters; to assess the impact of the Company’s policies, practices, products and services on BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) and Latinx/a/o/e communities, including youth.  Input from civil rights organizations, employees, customers, and communities in which Altria operates and other stakeholders should be considered. A report on the audit, prepared at reasonable cost and omitting confidential or proprietary information, should be publicly disclosed on Altria’s website.
Whereas clause
WHEREAS: we believe in full transparency of the effectiveness of Altria’s commitment to prevent underage use of nicotine products[1] and its commitment to racial equity[2] so we can determine if they adequately address potential legal, financial, and reputational business risks.
Supporting statement
SUPPORTING STATEMENT: Altria notes “increases in youth usage of e-vapor have threatened to undermine the hard-fought gains made in preventing underage use.”[3] As age is a protected class in the US constitution, a civil rights audit should include impacts on children and youth.
In December 2018, Altria invested $12.8 billion in JUUL, taking a 35% stake in the company, and providing advertising and sales support.  JUUL currently commands three-quarters of the e-cigarette market.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control shows that 86.3% of middle and high school students had been exposed to tobacco product advertisements or promotions, and 27.5% of high schoolers reported current e-cigarette use in 2019. Additionally, an estimated 53.3% of high school students and 24.3% of middle school students reported having ever tried a tobacco product.[4] A multi-state coalition of Attorneys General is investigating JUUL’s marketing and sales practices to underage users. Altria shares fell as much as 2.7% after Dow Jones reported the FTC is investigating the marketing practices of JUULLabs.
Tobacco/nicotine companies have historically placed larger amounts of advertising[5] in African American publications, disproportionally exposing African Americans to more cigarette ads than Whites. Additionally, tobacco companies use price promotions such as discounts and multi-pack coupons—which are most often used by African Americans and other minority groups, women, and young people—to increase sales.[6]
Numerous companies have recently committed to conducting audits, including Citigroup, Verizon, Apple, Wells Fargo, and Mondelez.
A civil rights audit is an important step in establishing a transparent system of accountability. Altria should take this opportunity to review its policies, practices, products and services, and how they impact the civil rights of youth and BIPOC communities.  
[4] Tobacco Product Use and Associated Factors Among Middle and High School Students — United States, 2019 | MMWR (
[5] African Americans and Tobacco Use | CDC
[6] African Americans and Tobacco Use | CDC

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