BAT using illegal tactics to get African youths to start smoking..

August 17, 2008 - British American Tobacco (BAT) is breaking its own marketing code covering the sale of cigarettes to youngsters in the African countries of Nigeria, Malawi and Mauritius.

The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria urged the federal government to investigate on-going ‘Experience Freshness’ secret parties being organized by BAT to promote its Pall Mall cigarette brand. An investigation revealed that invitations cards were given out secretly to youths in secondary and tertiary institutions, adding that while there were no checks at the gate on age limits, young people, especially the girls, were encouraged to attend. At parties there were free cigarettes at the gate and young persons were compelled to light and smoke cigarettes before entering, while there were many more sticks given out during the course of the party.

In July, an investigation by British businessman, Duncan Bannatyne, broadcast by the BBC, discovered tactics used by BAT which circumvent bans on advertising and raise the profile of cigarettes in countries where less than 10% of the population smoke and where smoking is still considered taboo. In Malawi and Nigeria, Bannatyne discovered posters that BAT had produced depicting single cigarettes and showing the price of a single cigarette.

References: Group seeks probe of ‘smoking’ parties, Daily Champion, 8/17/2008 and Tobacco giant 'breaks youth code', BBC, 6/28/2008.

The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that the number of smoking-related deaths in Africa will double in the next 20 years to 200,000.

Nigeria and Mauritius have ratified the
WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Public Health Treaty.