Monday, March 14, 2016

Selling cancer to Africans

British American Tobacco (BAT) has signed an $11.90 million deal with Malian state tobacco company, SONATAM for the production and distribution of Dunhill cigarettes in West Africa.

BAT is latching on the gullibility and weakness of African governments. It has created sneaky and illegal policies to outsmart restrictive laws, keeping Africa as one of its most lucrative markets while endangering millions of lives. According to Euromonitor data, BAT has the largest share of cigarette sales in the Middle East and Africa.  According to Financial times, it flagged a number of African countries as offering “further opportunities” for sales growth.

Late last year, a BBC investigation uncovered evidence of bribery at British American Tobacco. BAT was accused for bribery scandal in Kenya and Uganda. This was made known by Paul Hopkins who worked for the BAT in Kenya for 13 years and claims to have facilitated bribes for several individuals. In order to prove this, he released emails to Panorama showing the company’s involvement in these deals, which detail him being told that paying bribes was the cost of doing business in Africa.

In 2008, the company was the subject of a BBC documentary, in which Duncan Bannatyne investigated the marketing practices of the company in Africa and specifically the way the company targets younger Africans with branded music events, competitions and the sale of single cigarette sticks. Many of the practices uncovered were not in line with BAT’s own code of conduct and company standards. Bannatyne also interviewed Dr Chris Proctor, Head of Science and Regulation, who admitted that advertisements targeting children from three African countries were ‘disappointing’.

In 2007 the Nigerian government alleged that BAT marketing and advert campaigns were targeting the youth amongst other things. Several states in the country followed suit, taking legal action and seeking payment for future damages in anticipation of tobacco related diseases.

No comments: