Action of the Month
The focus of this month's action is tobacco & sports, a topic that, judging from many of your recent emails, seems to be a rampant problem worldwide -- and one that former tennis star and Philip Morris Board of Director member Billie Jean King symbolizes all too well. The tobacco industry loves to associate itself with sports because they are a cheap way to reach large, young audiences; skirt tobacco advertising bans; and project an image of health and vitality onto their deadly products.
The purpose of this month's action is to systematically gather information about Big Tobacco's sponsorship of sports around the world and to launch a range of local/international campaigns to kick the industry out of a game in which it obviously does not belong. Thanks to the Association for Non-Smokers Rights of Minnesota, the results of this month's action will be shared with thousands of youth from the U.S. and around the world at the Schwan's USA Cup July 15-21. The "tobacco-free" event is sponsored, in part, by ANSR's Tobacco-Free Youth Recreation program.
Please find below: 1) A list of information and materials to collect.
2) Follow up action ideas for you and your partner, including some specific
ways you can help us prepare for the Schwan's USA Cup. In a moment we
will send you another email with additional background information.
The tobacco industry has a knack for silencing the very segments of society that represent the greatest threat to its business. By donating money to fire departments, women's organizations, civil liberty groups, and minority communities, the industry has sought to avert attention from issues to which it is most vulnerable. As we say in the U.S., "a dog does not bite the hand that feeds it." The industry is also an international expert in projecting the exact opposite of reality in its advertising (Newport: "Alive with Pleasure," Virginia Slims: "Find Your Voice"). The industry's long quest to associate itself with anything and everything athletic is part of its general strategy to co-opt the opposition and counteract public awareness of the health hazards of smoking.
The tobacco industry loves to sponsor sports. For a minimal financial contribution, a tobacco company can gain extensive television coverage, often in countries where such advertising is banned; a huge youth audience; and great public relations. From the Winston Cup to the Virginia Slims tennis tournament, Big Tobacco has infiltrated many of the most popular sports in the world. Car racing, tennis, cricket, soccer, you name it, they've got it covered. In many countries, Philip Morris and BAT exercise a total monopoly on sports sponsorship. Some examples of tobacco and sports' inbreeding around the world:
Perhaps most outrageous is the U.S. tobacco industry's sponsorship of
U.S. athletes abroad. Marlboro and Salem sponsor U.S. tennis start Michael
Chang in Asia.
The resulting alliances between tobacco and sports interests serve the industry well. Once they are dependent on tobacco industry funding, many sports associations balk when legislators try to pass comprehensive advertising bans.
Ugandan "Sportsman" advertisements and other examples of the tobacco industry's promotion of sports and athletic
sponsorship of Formula One and its effects. ASH UK Paper.
of tobacco company-sponsored sports events in Asia (Asia Adweek 1999)
Tennis stars Pat Cash, Michael Chang, Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe all appeared in live matches in Malaysia sponsored by RJR. See "U.S. Aided Cigarette Firms in Conquests Across Asia" by Glenn Frankel (Washington Post)
In order to paint a comprehensive picture of the tobacco industry's sponsorship of sports around the world (especially soccer/football), we need you and your partner to collect, share, and compare the following information and items, as available:
Essential Action recommends that you and your partner write up a mini-report of your findings to share with us and the media. Essential Action can assist you in generating media coverage.
Once you have collected the above information and items, you and your partner can develop an action campaign. If appropriate, Essential Action can help you mobilize other GPTC partnerships to support you. Here are some ideas. Feel free to come up with additional ones of your own.
1) Launch an international letter-writing or petition campaign targeting a particular sports association and/or athlete, demanding that they to cut their ties to the tobacco industry immediately. The campaign could be supported by protests at tobacco industry-sponsored sports events or outside the athlete's office or home. Such activities are useful in putting a face on the industry. Public shaming is an effective negative public relations strategy.
2) Meet with local sports associations and urge them to go "tobacco-free," e.g. publicly ban the possession, sale, use, and advertising of tobacco products at sports events. For more information on developing tobacco-free policies and tobacco-free zones, check out ANSR's Tobacco-Free Youth Recreation site at http://www.ansrmn.org/tfyr1.htm
3) Recruit and publicize the names of sports associations and athletes that agree to reject industry offers of sponsorship and to actively promote tobacco control at sports events.
4) Assist Essential Action and the ANSR in preparing for the Schwan's USA Cup in July (and for upcoming events that may arise) by:
Further ideas? Questions? Contact: