BAT Under Fire Over Surge In Tobacco Deaths

healing geneva;”>This comes as the world prepares to celebrate the ‘No Tobacco Day’ on May 31, under the theme “Ban all tobacco Advertising promotion and sponsorship.”

Kingsley Wheaton, BAT’s Head of Corporate and Regulatory Affairs, emphasized that “Children are not and will never be BAT’s audience.”

“Our marketing is aimed at informed adult smokers who are aware of the health risks associated with tobacco use. But the same can’t be said for the criminals who are already actively selling tobacco products outside schools, newsagents and playgrounds. Black market cigarettes are also cheaper, making them more accessible to children at pocket money prices,” he affirmed.

Mr Wheaton further warned: “The reality is that people will continue to smoke. But instead of buying legal taxed cigarettes, made by legitimate tobacco companies and sold by reputable retailers, they’ll turn to black market sources to get what they want.

“The tobacco industry is highly regulated, sells a legal product and we have a legitimate business. We conduct our business in a professional and responsible way, abiding by the laws in all the countries we operate in, often going above and beyond our legal obligations.”


He, however, noted that unfortunately the same can’t be said for the sophisticated network of criminals ready and waiting to step-in and take over if the legitimate tobacco industry didn’t exist.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda released a statement on Thursday, through the Commissioner of Clinical Services, Dr. Jacinto Amandua pointing out that the tobacco epidemic kills nearly six million people each year with 60,000 people being non smokers who are just affected by the smoke from the smokers.

“However, this is expected to rise to eight million people dying each year by 2030 if the governments don’t come up and fight smoking,” said Rugunda.

Among the main reasons why the Ministry is banning the advertisement, sponsorships and promotions is because the comprehensive ban will lead to a reduction in number of long-term smokers and starters.

“It was revealed by statistics that banning of advertisement is one of the effective ways to reduce on tobacco demand,” added Rugunda.

This ban is a requirement under World Health Organization (WHO) frame work convention for tobacco control and Uganda signed the treaty in 2007.

All signatories were required to ban tobacco advertisement and sponsorship within a period of five years after signing the treaty. Uganda would have put in place a comprehensive ban by 2012.


But Mr Wheaton says BAT makes a long term commitment to sustainability; strives to bring reduced harm products to market; continues to fight the illegal tobacco trade; generates excise revenue; and provides employment and enhanced livelihoods to hundreds of thousands of employees and suppliers.

Wheaton emphasized that a world with no legitimate tobacco industry would see an end to significant investment in research and development of reduced-risk tobacco products. “There would be no incentive for criminals to start doing this.”

He also said it would be an end to the industry support to tackle tobacco trafficking and associated criminality, to worry about the product quality and safety.

He noted that it would lead to end to the $200billion per year in tax. “That’s the figure generated in tobacco taxes globally each year, more than seven times the profit of the global industry.”

“Millions of employees would lose their jobs and have their livelihoods impacted,” he added.

“British American Tobacco alone employs over 55,000 people worldwide and that’s not even including the 250,000 farmers we work with (this figure includes the 140,000 we have direct contracts with) or the hundreds of thousands of workers involved indirectly throughout our supply chain,” said Mr Wheaton.


Nevertheless, Rugunda says the tobacco industry uses sponsorship especially social responsibility to trick the public to neglect the dangers of tobacco hence hijacking the political and legislative process.

“This ban has been formulated to counteract the deceptive and misleading nature of tobacco marketing,” he observed.

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