I am Sara Bogdani, from Tirana, Albania. I am 17 years old.
In July 2000, while on vacation, I was approached by a neighbor of
mine, working for a trade company, who offered me a summer job. So
I started promoting the Philip Morris cigarettes (Marlboro and Bond).
My job, and that of my colleagues (two other attractive young girls),
which was a well paid one (300 USD per month while a physician or
a teacher normally gets about 100 USD per month) consisted in offering
cigarettes to smokers passing-by.
The smokers who liked the cigarette could buy them and get a present,
e.g. lighters or sunglasses, depending on the number on the packs
of cigarettes they had bought.
It was a work that took a great part of my day, because we did not
advertise only in Tirana, but we used to move frequently to other
cities like Durres and Elbasan. In these towns we were not stationed
in one place, but had to move from one place to another, like market
places in the open air or places with a lot of people. We used to
work four hours in the morning and two or three in the afternoon.
At the end of August during one of such promotion round in the city
of Duress, I saw two men coming toward me. One of them was smoking
a cigarette, so I offered him a Marlboro cigarette, as I started the
presentation. At the end of my pitch the non-smoker told me about
his job. He was Roland Shuperka, the WHO anti-tobacco counterpart
and the president of the Association "For a Tobacco-Free Albania."
He gave me his phone number. I promised to call him.
Nevertheless some time passed by until October, when he came to my
school, on the occasion of the "Week of Resistance to Tobacco
Transnationals" to show the film "Making a Killing".
I was still working for Philip Morris. I was really shocked by what
I saw. Watching the film, I begun to change my mind. I learned about
many international organizations and the fight they were waging against
From that moment I thought that what I did from promotion of cigarettes
was a very ugly thing and I decided to quit.
With the other members of the association, we are trying to change
the ways things are going in our country. We are in all the protests,
in the newspapers, the TVs. We want to pass a tobacco control act
and reduce the percentage of young smokers. We are organizing for
World No Tobacco Day and supporting a local hospital that is going
smokefree. I am going to the schools to give lectures. We are trying
our best. But there is a lot of advertising and promotion for cigarettes
and very little against tobacco. We hope to make progress.