BAT 'Backed Aids Campaign to Shift Spotlight from Smoking Risk'
Stevenson, Rachel, The Independent (London, England)
British American Tobacco, along with others in the tobacco industry, supported Aids prevention programmes in Africa in the hope this would push the dangers of smoking further down public health agendas and stop controls on tobacco, internal documents from the company show.
The allegations are garnered from BAT memos, which Christian Aid, Friends of the Earth and the anti-smoking group Ash have brought to the attention of the public for the first time in a report published yesterday. The memos show how BAT and the tobacco industry fought to block attempts by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to introduce international anti- smoking regulations. Their tactics included strategies to discredit research by WHO on nicotine addiction and the health impacts of passive smoking.
One internal memo, written by BAT's head of corporate and social accountability, said the company should support the tobacco industry in promoting Aids prevention in Africa with the aim of 'relegating' tobacco as a health issue.
Another memo describes the importance of BAT's involvement in local arts programmes and shelters for the homeless in Hungary, where BAT was striving to push its brands after the collapse of communism. The memo says the programmes for BAT 'not only win local allies but open the doors of politicians and regulators'.
After BAT donated HK$300,000 (pounds 20,000) to repair a bridge in China, an internal document stated that this was the 'sort of gesture to which officialdom will be obligated, and that can BAT more ways than advertising alone'.
Until this report, BAT's internal documents could be viewed only by appointment in a depository in Guildford. …