What Big Tobacco's up to
around the world...

January 2002

Well, it looks like, as usual, Big Tobacco is up to no good around the world! Tobacco commercials before movies (Yugoslavia). Television shows during the Muslim celebration of Eid (Pakistan). Billboards showing pregnant women (Ukraine). Donations of logo-covered automobiles to medical research institutes to benefit anti-malaria work (Kenya). "American Dream" cigarettes with a Statue of Liberty logo (Georgia). Health promotion for farmers (Bangladesh). And a "Bravery Award" to a man who sends dead bodies to medical colleges to benefit humanity (India)!

Many practices and trends cross borders: "charitable" donations, bogus "youth smoking prevention" programs, advertising campaigns to highlight new tax stamps (to deflect attention away from incriminating evidence of industry-coordinated smuggling?), sponsorship of popular youth events, and increasingly aggressive marketing to women.

Prepare to be disgusted...

...and inspired to take action! Public outcry in one country can pressure the tobacco industry to change its behavior in other. For example, a Dutch woman visiting the Ukraine was appalled by the L&M ad showing a pregnant woman. Upon her return to Holland she called up the Dutch office of Philip Morris and also alerted the media. The result? The advertisements were quickly removed. See below to learn more!


British American Tobacco (BAT), the leading tobacco company in Bangladesh, has launched a Youth Smoking Prevention Program which in our view will create attraction and curiosity for smoking among youngsters, rather than restrict desire to do so. Very recently BAT has introduced the band roll system to “show” that they are not involved in smuggling. To ensure political influence this program was ornamented by participation of the honorable Minister of Finance, Bangladesh. To create a positive image BAT has also established health promotion among farmers.
Email: [email protected]

CAMEROON - Joel Maradona et Kamandeu Michel, Action pour le Volontariat et la Solidarite des Jeunes
The sponsorship of sociocultural events is the tobacco industry’s primary means of promotion. This sponsorship comes in various forms: direct financial assistance, distribution of promotional items, the creation and placing of banners, promotional vehicles, and the free distribution of cigarettes. In particular, the industry targets elementary, high school, and college students. Almost all youth events, whether they be basketball tournaments, dances, rap competitions, or theatrical evenings, receive some sort of support from manufacturers and distributors of tobacco. The consequence is that the smoking rate among young people is continually rising. Full text (in French)
Email: [email protected]

COSTA RICADoug Blanke, William Mitchell College of Law (USA- MN)
Derby cigarettes empower women to beat men in arm-wrestling contests?!
Email: [email protected]

CZECH REPUBLICEva Kralikova, Charles University of Prague
Lucky Strike sponsor concerts for "Lucky People", and Marlboro sponsors "Ultimate Clubbing" concerts [which include U.S. bands] to “Light up the Night”
Email: [email protected]

GEORGIAKhatuna Doliashvili, Georgian Medical Association
• Smoke “American Dream” (literally!)
• “You are making the country stronger” says a BAT ad featuring senior citizens. Note BAT’s new sticker, “proof” that it doesn’t smuggle.
• “Marlboro " buttes" way out west
• The latest ad for Fusion
• Limited edition, collectable Lucky Strike boxes
Email: [email protected]

INDIAKinner Shah, Shree Shree Maa Anantanand Institute of Cancer
On Jan 13, 2002 in the Sunday Times of India there was an interview of Brad Pitt that featured Pitt with a cigarette in his hand!! I do not know whether Pitt was responsible for it or our sick author with a cheap taste for publicity.
Email: [email protected]

KENYAElisha Oongo, Social Needs Network
BAT has donated a brand new car, fully flooded with the BAT emblem, to the Kenya Medical Research Institute. The donation, according to Dr. Vulule, the Director of Centre for Vector Biology was made by the firm in memory of a Jean-Marie Donner, who contracted Malaria in Congo and was admitted to Nairobi Hospital but unfortunately died. The donation, which also includes a microscope, is towards work on malaria control in the region. Read a related letter to the editor
Email: [email protected]

MAURITIUS - Véronique LeClézio, ViSa
British American Tobacco is implanted in Mauritius since 1926. The ‘Public Health Act” of Mauritius was modified in 1999, to ban all form of advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products. But since, BAT breaches that law very regularly, with the complicity of the Mauritian government, as in the case of:
• Official donations of libraries to poor villages, in presence of ministers.
• Disguised advertisings- Job opportunities offered by BAT and advertised through newspapers.
• Would-be Youth Smoking Prevention Programs : Retailer’s Scheme. Visuals (Wobbles of Red hands saying ‘NO- no sale to minors » have been distributed to all points of sale, just to attract the attention of the customers on the cigarettes display.
• ‘BAT Undergraduate Scholarship Scheme’ is a competition for the sponsorship of 10 students of the University of Mauritius each year , for 2000 rupees per month.
• In 1999, BAT, together with the ministry of Health of Mauritius launched a national campaign : « To smoke or not , a MAJOR decision not be taken by MINORS »- thus presenting smoking as a forbidden fruit to attract minors !
• BAT advertising calendar 2002 has just been published and distributed. Each page of the calendar boasts about all its official breaches of the Public Health Act.
More information see additional details and a report on ViSa's January meeting with the Minister of Social Security (French)
Email: [email protected]

NIGERInoussa Saouna, SOS Tabagisme
A new cigarette brand was unveiled in Niamey in January: B. Bruno, supposedly manufactured in Bulgaria by a firm called “BTH Ltd” or so the packet says. The “light” brand targets young girls.
Email: [email protected]

PAKISTAN Javaid Khan, The Aga Khan University Hospital
Tobacco companies aggressively marketed during the Eid, which Muslim celebrated on 17 December after the holy month of Ramadan. On all the three days of Eid, Pakistan television gave extensive coverage to the Tobacco companies. Some of the Eid transmission were even named after the cigarette brand “Diplomate.” Tobacco companies knew very well that Eid is a family occasion in which people meet each other and watch interesting programs on television. A lot of children who watched these programs with their families. At the same time, several billboard on the streets of Karachi saying "we do not sell cigarettes to under 18.” Both the major tobacco companies -- Pakistan Tobacco company, a subsidiary of BAT, and Lakson Tobacco company -- participated in this event.
         And the newspaper recently reported on the appointment of a new Deputy Managing Drector of Pakistan Tobacco Company (controlled by BAT), who has a “special passion for the Environment and Corporate Social Responsibility.” In addition to an afforestation program which plants 4 million trees annually, the company supports IT Learning Resource Centres, a Mobile Doctors Programme, and a Solid Waste Disposal Project. See article
Email: [email protected]

TOGOPatrick Agbavon, Association Togolaise des Jeunes pour le Developpement (ATJD)
An important characteristic of the Togolese population is its extreme youth, in fact 70% of Togolese are under the age of 20. This young and impressionable population attracts transnational tobacco companies to market their product in Togo. The economic problems and lack of knowledge of the health hazards of tobacco use make the people of Togo an easy prey for TNTS.
         In Togo soccer is king. In cooperation with the Togolese soccer Federation, Royals cigarettes sponsor an annual competition to identify the best soccer team in the country. The brand “Fine” sponsored the cycle tour of Togo, as well as the 2000 Togo Music Awards. Advertisements for these events are aired by the national broadcasting station in Togo. The free distribution of T-shirts, lighters, cigarettes, and caps with different logos is common in Togo. Cigarette packs are seen as statements by teenagers that they are more hip and elegant than other people. Full text
Email: [email protected]

UGANDAPhillip Karugaba, TEAN
December was a very busy month for BAT Uganda. In conjunction with two other companies (a beer and soft drinks), BAT renovated an Army Officers Mess in Gaddafi Barracks, Jinja. BAT also launched its first Benson & Hedges Bar in a discotheque. BAT Uganda also invited the head of the revenue collection authority to open its new line. The new line produces cigarettes bearing the tax stamp.
Email: [email protected]

UKRAINEKonstantin Krasovsky, Alcohol and Drug Information Center
Philip Morris has special advertising campaign for L&M cigarettes with slogan "Flavor unites the world.” They have series of pictures of people with name of famous cities like Stockholm, Bangkok, Brasilia and so on. The present picture has the message: "You are linked to Luxembourg.” The woman is pregnant and it is stressed by the man's hand. They deliberately made the suggestion that this woman is pregnant. Below is health warning: "Ministry of health warns: smoking is dangerous to your health".
More information: Account of the successful mini-campaign to abolish the ad , Dutch article & photo
Email: [email protected]

URUGUAY - Eduardo Bianco & Adriana Menendez, Tobacco Control Commission – Uruguayan Medical Syndicate
Philip Morris is carrying out the campaign "Yo tengo poder" ("I´ve the power") directed to the children in public schools (isn’t there something outrageous about this???). Worse, this campaign is carried out and supported by the Ministry of Education and Culture, [led] by the tobacco industry´ s lawyer
Emails: [email protected], [email protected]

USA – CA Rick Kropp
Rick’s article “Topsy turvy world of tobacco” examines the multitude of contradictory and hypocritical aspects of tobacco products and the tobacco industry -- all of which make up the weird and bizarre world of Big Tobacco, e.g. “Constitutionally Protected Tobacco Advertising,” “Retail Industry Shilling for Big Tobacco,” “Punishing Children to Protect Them,” and the “Insulting Notion of Smokers' Rights”
Email: [email protected]

USA – FL Arthur Pitchenik, University of Miami Medical Center
In several Seven-Eleven 24 hour convenience stores in Miami I noticed a tobacco company sign next to the packs of cigarettes and also in the store window reading "come of age" referring to minors purchasing cigarettes. This suggests to me that the right to purchase cigarettes somehow represents a rite of passage to adulthood . I believe that this specific wording by the tobacco companies is intentional to appear to be responsible and law abiding but another sneaky way to seduce youth to buy their product.
Email: [email protected]

USA – KS - Mary Jayne Hellebust, Kansas SmokeLess Kids Initiative, Inc
"At U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co., we pride ourselves both on making the highest quality smokeless tobacco products for adults in the world and on being a highly responsible corporate citizen. " This quote, in a letter to the editor in the Topeka Capitol Journal, was from a representative of the U.S. SmokeLess Tobacco Company defending its promotion of a new smokeless, supposedly "spitless" tobacco in a little mouth pouch which is being testmarketed in Topeka, Kansas. The product is supposedly designed for smokers to use at times and places where they do not smoke. The slogan for the new product called Revel is "anytime, anywhere." With Revel, smokers can use both cigarettes AND tobacco to maintain their addiction.
Email: [email protected]

USA – TX - Joel Dunnington, U.T.M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
The Chief Political advisor of the President of the United States was a Philip Morris lobbyist until uncovered.
Email: [email protected]

YUGOSLAVIA (SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO) - Andjelka Dzeletovic, Institute of Public Health of Serbia
The biggest perfidy of tobacco industry is advertising their products by sportsmen and sport events. BEST cigarette brand is advertising Yugoslav handball. The newest billboard in city center is “YU is the BEST” with a picture of our famous sportsmen. Winston cigarette brand is advertised by YUBA Winston league (First national basketball league). The signing of the contract between Basketball Association of Yugoslavia and Winston was very noticed in the media. Other brands that also have strong ongoing billboard marketing campaigns: Lucky Strike "I choose”; Davidoff “The more you know”; President “Taste freedom”; West “The power Brand”, “Test it”. Markets and street stands that sell tobacco products are covered with brand logos: Winston, Lucky Strike, Boss... Before film begins in cinemas, various cigarette brands have their commercials.
Email: [email protected]

Last but not least, from Globalink:

INDIAPrakash Gupta
This seems to be a well-designed illustration of black humour. An Indian cigarette company Godfrey Philips, a subsidiary of Philip Morris, has been giving Red & White Bravery Awards for the last few years. Red and White is their major cigarette brand in India and it is clear that the company spends many times over in publicizing the award (full page newspaper, magazine ads, tv and film ads etc.) than in giving it. The first prize is to a person who sends dead bodies to medical colleges to benefit humanity. The citation does not say that the company helps him a great deal by creating more dead bodies. At least 630, 000 adult deaths are attributed to tobacco use in India every year. Read more

Want more examples? See last year's compilation of outrageous tobacco industry behavior around the world or contact:

Essential Action
Global Partnerships for Tobacco Control

P.O. Box 19405 ~ Washington, DC 20036
Tel: +1 202-387-8030 ~ Fax: +1 202-234-5176
Email: [email protected]