Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Tobacco Talks Strictly about U.S. Regulations

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Tobacco Talks Strictly about U.S. Regulations

Article excerpt

The lawyers across the table from the tobacco industry in the secretive settlement talks have been quick to describe their goal as a "global" resolution of the tobacco wars. But "national" is closer to the truth.

The talks have been strictly limited to putting an end to legal and regulatory conflicts between American smokers and the tobacco companies.

But the industry's hottest growth prospects are overseas. "The reality is that the more the noose tightens in the U.S., the more the industry looks to foreign markets,"said Judith MacKay, director of the Asian Consultancy on Tobacco Control, an anti-tobacco group based in Hong Kong. U.S. exports overseas have more than tripled since the late '70s, when domestic smoking rates began to decline. Of the roughly 3 million people a year who die from smoking-related illnesses, a third are in developing countries, but the World Health Organization projects that the worldwide toll will grow to 10 million annually within 40 years, with 70 percent from developing countries. U.S. companies say their success overseas stems mainly from converting people who already smoke to their brands. But health advocates argue that the globalization of the Marlboro man and other Western advertising is encouraging children and women in developing countries, who have much lower smoking rates, to start. U.S. sales have grown most in Asia and the former Soviet bloc as state monopolies in those regions have been relaxed. The companies estimate they have what one R.J. Reynold's executive described as "a 10-year window" to grab business in those countries that haven't yet been fully exposed to the smoother-tasting American brands and their powerful marketing. Analysts estimate that Philip Morris, which owns Marlboro, has about 25 percent of the world market outside China, which is still largely closed to foreign competition. …

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