International Public Health
over Wal-Mart Profits!

Action of the Month
August 2001

Thanks to all of you who sent letters to Wal-Mart President and CEO Lee Scott to protest the company's aggressive cigarette marketing in Mexico and around the world via SmokeFree Educational Services, Inc.'s webpage The good news: a total of 740 letters have been sent! The bad news: WAL-MART STILL HASN'T CHANGED ITS POLICY!

As the world's largest vendor of cigarettes, Wal-Mart's international double standard is dangerous for global public health. The company's lame excuse is: it's legal. We all know what Wal-Mart is really thinking: cigarettes = $$$, we're a big corporation, and we can get away with it!

Not if we have any say in the matter! Here are some ways that you and your partner can heighten pressure on Wal-Mart to change its anti-health policy.


  • Collect More International Examples. As the image of Wal-Mart check out counters in Mexico proves, a single photo and a simple anecdote can be powerful. How does Wal-Mart market cigarettes in your or your partner's country*? Stop by, observe, and snap a photo! For examples see
  • Distribute "Making a Killing" to Your Local Wal-Mart. This summer, Infact is distributing copies of its video "Making a Killing" to Wal-Mart stores across the U.S. Over a dozen GPTC groups have already signed up to meet with and deliver MAK videos to local Wal-Mart store managers. If you would like to participate, contact Essential Action and we will have Infact send you an organizing kit. If possible, bring photos of Wal-Mart cigarette promotions in other countries and a statement by your partner re: tobacco's international public health toll.
  • Demonstrate in Front of Wal-Mart. Gather members of local organizations, students, and others to picket the entrance of a local Wal-Mart. Carry signs with your demands; short, catchy slogans; and appropriate visuals, e.g. blown up images of Wal-Mart's cigarette promotion in Mexico and elsewhere. Bring costumes and props and do "street theatre." Brainstorm appropriate chants ahead of time. For starters, why not fiddle around with the "Wal-Mart Cheer" (see below)?
  • Generate Local Media Coverage. Issue a press release. Invite local media to attend your meeting with a Wal-Mart manager and/or your demonstration. Write an editorial for a local newspaper. Call in to a local radio talk show. Use your global partnership as an added "local hook" to the story.
  • Send More Letters! If you haven't already done so, send a letter to Wal-Mart expressing your opinion re: their anti-health practices abroad. See below for an update on SmokeFree Educational Services, Inc.'s letter campaign, talking points, and contact information.
  • And those of you in countries without Wal-Marts: please report any other U.S. chains that show a blatant disregard for the health and well-being of their international customers.

*As of June 1, 2001, Wal-Mart International had 1,092 "units" outside the U.S.: Mexico (512), Puerto Rico (17), Canada (176), Argentina (11), China (11)Korea (6), Germany (94), United Kingdom (244).


Wal-Mart: Stop Pushing Cigarettes Abroad!
Updated info on letter-writing campaign, Talking points, Contact info

Wal-Mart has been caught selling a toy cigarette pack to a child in Canada.

"He came running into the parking lot hollering, 'Dad, Dad, I got a pack of cigarettes, I got a pack of cigarettes.' " recalled the boy's 39 year old father. The father was fuming after he realized the realistic facsimile was meant as a child's plaything. "My boy was just gung-ho. He wanted to show his friends: 'I can smoke, I can smoke.' "

Although Wal-Mart unintentionally sold this toy cigarette pack, there can be no doubt that Wal-Mart intentionally places giant cigarette ads at every checkout counter in less developed countries around the world (see picture at

In response to hundreds of smokefree advocate letters, Wal-Mart responds that it is legal. Wal-Mart's response doesn't make sense. It is also LEGAL to place giant cigarette ads at checkout counters in the U.S, but Wal-Mart doesn't do it. The question remains: If Wal-Mart doesn't do it here, why does it do it in less developed countries?

If you would like to send a letter to Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott, go to Your letter will be FAXED and E-MAILED to Mr. Scott and key Wal-Mart staff.

Thank you for your support. Together we can get Wal-Mart to stop promoting tobacco addiction in less developed countries.

Joseph W. Cherner, President
SmokeFree Educational Services, Inc.

Wal-Mart Contact Information

Lee Scott
President & CEO
Wal-Mart Stores
702 Southwest 8th Street
Bentonville, AR 72716
Via FAX: 501-621-2063

Talking Points

  • Tell Wal-Mart how it makes you feel when you walk into a Wal-Mart in a low-income country and see cigarette ads at every checkout counter.
  • If Wal-Mart wouldn't do it this country, why does it do it in other countries?
  • What is Wal-Mart's policy about placing cigarette ads at every cash register? Is it, "We'll do it wherever we can get away with it?"
  • Isn't the health of children in less developed countries as important as the health of U.S. children?
  • None of Wal-Mart's competitors place cigarette ads at every checkout counter.
  • The argument that "the practice is legal" is bogus. The practice is legal in the U.S., but one doesn't see such blatant cigarette-peddling there. And just because a practice is "legal," doesn't make it right. If we lived by this rationalization in the U.S., slavery would still exist, and women still wouldn't be able to vote.
  • According to Wal-Mart's website, the company prides itself with "exceeding customer expectations." We expect Wal-Mart to abide by its U.S. policies abroad!

The Wal-Mart Cheer
Home Page> About Wal-Mart > The Wal-Mart Culture > The Wal-Mart Cheer

Give me a W!
Give me an A!
Give me an L!
Give me a Squiggly!
Give me an M!
Give me an A!
Give me an R!
Give me a T!
What's that spell?
Who's number one?
The Customer! Always!

EXCERPT: Don't be alarmed if you hear these enthusiastic shouts from our associates as you're shopping at your favorite Wal-Mart store. All the noise is our Wal-Mart cheer. Some people may think it's corny, but we're proud of it. It's the way we show pride in our company - in fact, we hope you'll join right in. Over the years, our company has grown to include stores, associates and customers in many parts of the world, so now our cheer can be heard in many different languages.

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]