Cigarette Makers in Battle Against Marketing Curbs in Developing Countries

Facing tough limits on smoking in public places and promotional campaigns, tobacco companies have intensified the fight against  restrictions around the world, the New York Times reports.

Industry giants, such as Philip Morris and British American Tobacco, are actively combating rules in developing countries.

Dr. Douglas Bettcher, head of the World Health Organizations’ Tobacco Free Initiative, told the Times that cigarette companies are aggressively recruiting new customers in developing nations to replace those who are quitting or dying in the United States and Europe, where smoking rates have fallen precipitously.

The tactics used by cigarette companies in other countries have included contesting bigger warning labels in South America and higher cigarette taxes in the Philippines and Mexico, along with spending billions of dollars on lobbying and marketing campaigns in Africa and Asia.

Indonesia is a particularly notable example of a place where cigarette makers continue to use marketing techniques that are prohibited elsewhere in the world. Cigarette ads run on TV and before movies; billboards dot the highways; companies appeal to children through concerts and sports events; cartoon characters adorn packages; and stores sell to children.

Philip Morris International last year sued the government of Uruguay, claiming its tobacco regulations were excessive, and also sued Brazil, saying that images the government wants to put on cigarette packages do not accurately depict the health effects of smoking and “vilify” tobacco companies.

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