Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Tobacco's Growing Global Road

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Tobacco's Growing Global Road

Article excerpt

Campaigns for nonsmokers' rights and against smoking have had much success in the US and in parts of Europe. But elsewhere, they still have a long way to go.

US tobacco companies aren't helping much. They generate more than $62 billion in annual revenues, and more of that is being made in foreign markets where antismoking efforts are generally weak.

Philip Morris' international sales, for instance, went up a whopping 18 percent to $39.54 billion last year. This week it said it would pay out $5.2 billion to purchase Sampoerna, the third- largest cigarette producer in Indonesia.

Why Indonesia? It's a country of 220 million people where up to 70 percent of males smoke (the cigarettes tend to be kreteks, a blend of tobacco and cloves.)

The purchase represents another example of a disturbing trend. Philip Morris and other big tobacco companies have sought to penetrate world tobacco markets since the 1980s - with either outright purchases of companies such as Sampoerna or state-owned tobacco enterprises being privatized (e.g., Russia), or through joint ventures.

The world's big tobacco companies have a physical presence in some 96 countries. And tobacco manufacturers are seriously lobbying China, whose smokers represent a third of the world's estimated 1. …

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