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Tobacco companies encourage smokers to protest against taxes and bans

Major tobacco companies are doing their best to turn average smokers into the rebels by the latest underground campaign promoting mass protests against hefty taxes, regulations and smoking bans.

The campaign named “I Deserve to Be Heard” comprises putting small notes into cigarette packs sending smokers to certain website stating: “It’s time to tell the government you’ve had enough”.

Smokers protest against taxes

Smokers protest against taxes

The Australian government states it will concentrate efforts on eliminating the tobacconists’ campaign, as the spokesperson for Australian Minister of Health said the campaign is a vivid example of how low tobacco industry is ready to go to promote their dangerous goods.

Anti-tobacco organizations are shocked by the latest strategy, naming the campaign arrogant and unprecedented.

Local smokers have faced two considerable hikes in cigarette taxes during the last 12 months and the number of venues where puffing is permitted is decreasing annually since the federal and state legislatures implement extensions to cover more places by the bans.

Smoking is prohibited throughout the country in bars, clubs, cafes, restaurants, business centers and other places, while several states have prohibited, or intend to prohibit lighting up on beaches, parks and other outdoor facilities.

Business owners criticize the new regulations as well, especially after the lawmakers approved the law to require cigarettes to be sold in generic packages and under the counter, and implemented a set of further restrictions on marketing and advertising.

The I Deserve to Be Heard public campaign was introduced by Philip Morris International’s Australian unit, which markets Marlboro cigarettes, the world’s best-selling tobacco brand, L&M, and other world-known cigarette brands.

The campaign encourages adult smokers to contact their MP and support their smoking electorate.

The campaign has three targets – tax increases, smoking bans in outdoor venues, and generic packaging of cigarettes.

“Australia has been one of the most over-governed countries across the developed nations,” according to the website.

“If you are a smoker, you are definitely annoyed and frustrated.”

Philip Morris Limited issued a written statement, saying that the campaign concentrates on giving people who purchase the company’s products the chance to make their opinion heard regarding the excessive and senseless laws which affect them.

A spokesperson for Nicola Roxon, Australian Minister of Health stated the government was preparing to fight with the campaign, and considering the legal fight as well.

“Tobacco companies don’t want people to know that about 75 percent of adult smokers attempt to stop smoking or reduce consumption annually – people are aware that smoking is a deadly habit, while the smoking rate is dropping,” the spokesperson added.

Tobacco Companies Promote Their Products in Developing Countries

Suffering tough restrictions in the United States, multinational tobacco enterprises are more and more promoting their products in developing countries, mostly among women and adolescents.

While smoking rates in certain industrially developed countries are dropping at about 1% per year, those in developing countries are rising at around 3%.

Virginia Slims cigarettes

According to estimates, if present trends continue within next 30 years, more than 7 million people from developing countries will die from tobacco related illnesses.

For the past years, tobacco companies as British-American Tobacco, Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds have been extending rapidly in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America.

“In the US, Hispanic minorities have been mostly attracted by the tobacco manufacturers since the early 1960s, and have received a great dose of advertising,” said Jeanette Noltenius, an expert on tobacco and alcohol abuse issues.

Bureau of Census, U.S. Department of Commerce stated that the number of young Latino smokers will increase by 2020, constituting 19% of young American smokers, up from 9 at present.

Since 1980 the American trade officials, conducted a long campaign to open and promote markets in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. For instance in Taiwan all these efforts brought to increased levels of smoking mostly among women and kids.

These actions have urged the Asia-Pacific Association to stand against what they suppose an invasion of their countries by U.S. companies attracting Asian women and children.

Various researches demonstrate that in the poorest households in emerging countries, 10% or more of the total household expenditure is comprised in tobacco. Thus there is less money for main items like food, education and health that brings to unbalanced diet, illiteracy and premature death.

Currently in China tobacco enterprises are moving continuously inland with intensive advertisement campaigns. It was estimated that of the world’s 1.71 billion smokers, more than 350 million live in China, where the rate of lung cancer has been raising 4.75 % per year.

The Chinese government officials are facing a dilemma of advertising tobacco cessation programs while it substantially depends on profits from the state-run tobacco company.

Researches from the School of Public Health at the University of California declare that increasing the tobacco tax by the equivalent of 15% per cigarette pack could save more than 13 million lives and accumulate $9.5 billion in revenue for the Chinese government.

While U.S. anti-smoking organizations wait a particular moment for action, those in developing countries are less effective. Such countries’ policies and programs won’t be efficient unless transnational tobacco companies are made to limit their persistent promoting.




Philip Morris set grow market share in Armenia tobacco market .

Last year Armenian government approved several regulations to control local tobacco market and major tobacco companies. Regional senior manager of Philip Morris International, the leading tobacco group in Armenia, Sargis Tsaghikyan stated that the tobacco giant is set to show another great performance capturing more market share in 2011.

Philip Morris International and Armenia

Mr. Tsaghikyan said that Philip Morris Armenia offers solid and balanced brand portfolio in the local market, and is presented in all price categories, keeping in touch with all adult costumers’ needs. This makes the company believe that its business performance will be successful and the market share will continue to grow.

According to PMI Armenia is an emerging and very competitive market. And the Marlboro-maker has a 19.5 percent share of that market, the biggest among its major rivals.

In 2010 Philip Morris International offered the following brands to the Armenian smokers: Marlboro, L&M, Parliament, Chesterfield, Virginia Slims, Bond Street, Muratti Ambassador, Red&White and Assos Slims. L&M is the best-selling brand among PMI brands.

Last October, Armenian president signed into law amended Excise Tax Law and Tobacco Products Tax Law under which the tax rate difference among imported and locally manufactured tobacco products will be gradually reduced starting from Jan 1st 2011, therefore introducing equal approach to local and imported cigarettes. Philip Morris International welcomed these tax code amendments, as they are implemented in established time and prompt Armenian Tobacco Products Taxation equaling with World Trade Organization requirements.

Armenia adopted a universal and thorough legislative base to regulate tobacco industry and according to Philip Morris Armenia senior manager, the company is willing to cooperate with the government and public health authorities to establish norms and regulations for the domestic tobacco industry. The company believes it is vital that regulatory base is comprehensive, justified by evidence and covering all tobacco companies and products and that enforcement is adequate and even. These regulations could allow the authorities reach the public health objectives.

Philip Morris International is the largest international tobacco group in the world, selling its products in more than 160 markets. In 2009 the company had an approximately 15.4 percent share of global cigarette market excluding the United States, or 26 percent, excluding China and the USA.

On its official website, PMI states that smoking can cause addiction and severe health complications and recognizes that there is no safe form of tobacco consumption. The company supports strict and effective measure to regulate tobacco, and agrees that cessation should be the major aim of public health policies. At the same time Philip Morris International doesn’t target non-smokers and minors, and their marketing strategies are intended to adult smokers and set to encourage them top prefer PMI’s brands in favor of competitors’ products.

UK Tobacco Companies Use Youth-oriented Marketing Strategies to Attract Teens

Tobacco adverts are prohibited throughout the European Union, however the number of cigarette ads in social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook is growing. According to health experts tobacco companies also increasingly use summer youth music festivals to promote their products and turn younger adults and teenagers into smoking.

Marketing Tobacco Strategies to Attract Teens

Many music festivals held across the United Kingdom signed sponsorship deals with tobacco companies and agreements to install stands with their tobacco products. Lovebox festival, one of the biggest open-air events in the UK was partially sponsored by Rizla tobacco-rolling paper, a division of Imperial Tobacco which is not covered by the tobacco advertisement ban. According to Imperial Tobacco communications manager, sponsoring festivals is a legal activity, so the company believes they can use such events for promoting their products.

Another major music festival held last summer in Suffolk featured stands with Marlboro cigarettes. The organizers of the event signed partnership deal with Philip Morris International, so only Marlboro cigarettes were sold in the festival, with sales carried out by attractive girls wearing “Marlboro-featured” dresses and skirts. In addition, this year’s edition will feature similar partnership deal, this time with Imperial Tobacco.

The UK division of Japan Tobacco International also used music festivals for promoting its key brands Benson and Hedges, Camel and Silk Cut. These brands were selling at five large and brightly-illuminated stands and featured gift boxes with two cartons of cigarettes, a lighter and glow stick.

Action on Smoking and Health President Deborah Arnott criticized tobacco giants, saying that the tobacco companies are eager to attract new smokers, because their current audience either give up smoking or die prematurely.

She said that smokers tend to start their habit in their adolescence, so tobacco industry made a clever choice by starting sponsoring youth-oriented festivals. Whereas the majority of existing forms of advertising tobacco products are banned in the UK, tobacco companies found a loophole permitting them to promote their products among teenagers, added ASH president.

The recent nationwide survey completed by ASH demonstrated that 60% of adults who have children want laws banning tobacco ads during music festivals. So, the organization is planning to encourage the parliament to amend current tobacco-advertisement restrictions.

In addition to festivals, tobacco companies also use social networks to promote their products in cyberspace. According o a research by Sidney University scientists, the employees of major tobacco companies are creating fan groups of certain cigarette brands, and joining smokers’ communities registered in Facebook and promoting their products there.

In the meantime, according to several sources, tobacco companies operating in the UK have agreed to initiate legal proceeding to overturn the ban on which was approved by previous UK government.