Pubdate: Fri 16 Oct 1999
Source: Guardian Weekly, The (UK)
Copyright: 1999 The Guardian Weekly
Contact:  75 Farringdon Road London U.K EC1M 3HQ
Fax: 44-171-242-0985
Author: Sarah Boseley, Health Correspondent


From The Firm Which Admits Cigarettes Are Addictive

British Telecom, Seiko and other leading brand names have supplied
lifestyle goods for a Marlboro promotional campaign accused of
enticing young people to increase their cigarette consumption.

The disclosure follows the admission this week by Philip Morris,
manufacturer of Marlboro, that smoking is addictive. Yesterday the
World Health Organisation accused the company of trying to push young
people into addiction by encouraging them to smoke more. The tobacco
company denies the charge, claiming that the gifts, such as a camera
in exchange for proof of buying 1,600 Marlboro cigarettes, are a
reward for brand loyalty.

BT, Seiko and clothing manufacturers White Stuff admit ted signing
contracts with the tobacco manufacturer Rothmans, who organised the
promotion for Philip Morris. Other goods manufacturers claimed
ignorance, saying the deal had been done by agencies on their behalf.

Peter Anderson, head of the European arm of the WHO's Tobacco Free
Initiative, said it was hypocritical of Philip Morris to be
encouraging young people to smoke more when it had just admitted that
cigarettes are addictive. "It just shows how two-faced they are," he
said. "They have one public message and then do the complete opposite."

The campaign, which is still going on, targets people of 18 and over.
They are offered leisure items in exchange for smoking dozens of
packets of Marlboro. For 80 pack foils, they can have a Nikon Nuvis
A20 camera, for 70 they receive a Sanyo CD player, for 60 they get a
Lorus watch made by Seiko and for 50 a BT EasyReach pager. If they
smoke 40 packets, they can have a White Stuff fleece and, for 25, a
moleskin shirt.

Young people in clubs have been targeted by the promotion. The WHO's
Bristol-based newsletter Health!, which has been investigating the
campaign discovered that youngsters were being handed free packets of
cigarettes in exchange for their names and addresses. Later they
received a box through the post that contains leaflets promoting the

Some companies said they regretted getting involved, while others
maintained ethical issues had nothing to do with business. BT said the
decision to take part had been a mistake. "We had been approached to
supply some pagers for the brochure and someone said yes," said a
spokesman, Robert Dunnett. "They shouldn't have done. We're sorry about it."

Seiko was unrepentant. "We, along with many, many other consumer goods
manufacturers have been involved with the cigarette manufacturers
since Noah was a boy," said group marketing manager David Innes.

"While you can make moral judgments about whether we should be or not,
we're in the business of selling watches."

White Stuff clothing's managing director George Treves said: "We were
not aware of the nature of the campaign. We didn't know it was going
to be targeted so directly at a youth market."

A spokeswoman for Nikon, Elaine Swift, said the company had not been
approached directly. "We do use third-party agencies and we are
assuming that the promotion was arranged through one of them," she
said. "We will be reviewing how we work with these agencies to ensure
that similar situations do not occur in the future."

Sanyo, maker of the CD player in the promotion, did not return the
Guardian's calls yesterday." Philip Morris vigorously defends its
right to mount such promotions. A spokesman likened the promotion to
the collection of Green Shield stamps - "We reward brand loyalty among
Marlboro smokers," he said.

He added: "It is worrying to have the WHO criticising legitimate
business practice that is fully approved by and compliant with
government wishes." 
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