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Tobacco company considered funding a film to promote smoking in eastern Europe

  1. Lunar Loops
    The follwing is an abstract of an article from British Medical Journal (unfortunately I do not have subscription access to full article):

    Tobacco company considered funding a film to promote smoking in eastern Europe


    Abergavenny Roger Dobson


    Previously secret documents show that British American Tobacco (BAT) considered investing in a £2.25m (€3.3m; $4.2m) action film, with a heroine who smoked, for distribution in eastern Europe, according to a new report (European Journal of Public Health 2006 Apr 5, doi:10.1093/eurpub/ckl041).
    In return for providing money to make the film, the company would have cigarette marketing opportunities in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, says a letter from the film’s producer cited in the report. British American Tobacco would have had the right to position its chosen brand in the film. The report cites examples of other interest in using films to promote tobacco smoking in several eastern European countries, after the political collapse of the Eastern bloc, including an executive who suggested that films in Hungary could reach a young urban market.

Comments

  1. Nature Boy
    I've already seen a movie that promotes smoking cigarettes: Sin City.

    Is there five minutes in that movie where someone doesn't spark up a cancer stick?
  2. Jatelka
    Here's the full article:

    Tobacco company considered funding a film to promote smoking in eastern Europe


    Abergavenny Roger Dobson


    Previously secret documents show that British American Tobacco (BAT) considered investing in a £2.25m (€3.3m; $4.2m) action film, with a heroine who smoked, for distribution in eastern Europe, according to a new report (European Journal of Public Health 2006 Apr 5).
    In return for providing money to make the film, the company would have cigarette marketing opportunities in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, says a letter from the film’s producer cited in the report. British American Tobacco would have had the right to position its chosen brand in the film.
    The report cites examples of other interest in using films to promote tobacco smoking in several eastern European countries, after the political collapse of the Eastern bloc, including an executive who suggested that films in Hungary could reach a young urban market.
    “About the same time the company also considered using movies as the medium in Romania to launch its Lucky Strike brand in that market,” say the report.
    According to the report, internal tobacco industry documents show that in the late 1990s, the company evaluated becoming an investor in a film which had the working title Aquarius, later called Indian Poker.
    “In return for providing the money to make the film, the company would not only share in the profits and receive a reduction of British taxes, but also receive cigarette marketing opportunities.
    “The film’s producer also reported that 85% of the anticipated audience would be young adults and that the company would have ‘exclusive rights to position its chosen [cigarette] brand in association with every aspect of the movie exploitation,' including launch parties, and so on, which were expected to be aired on television. The number of showings of the film was calculated as over 52 000, with each showing including a BAT sponsorship message in addition to the movie,” say the authors of the study, which was supported with a National Institutes of Health grant.
    It is not known whether the film, described as an action adventure in which the heroine smoked, was made. “The available documents end prior to the company’s final decision, so it is uncertain whether the film ultimately was made and if so, whether it was with the company’s participation.
    “According to the film’s producer, the movie was never released and a written request for details of why the film was not released went unanswered by the producer,” say the authors from the Mayo Clinic.
    The authors say their findings, from a search of some 800 000 pages of internal documents shows that restrictions on smoking in movies need to be tightened.
    “As an investor, British American Tobacco brands could be effectively promoted without violating movie product placement restrictions,” they say. “Although both an industry-wide international marketing code and the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between the tobacco industry and the majority of the US states bar cigarette advertising in movies, British American Tobacco documents show that the company could nevertheless find creative ways around these restrictions.”
    The report says a change in strategy is required for tobacco control in movies. It says protocols should lay down what is permitted rather than what is prohibited. That, say the authors, will reduce opportunities for cigarette companies to devise new means to subvert regulatory intent. A British American Tobacco spokesman said, “We didn’t do it [finance the film], and now under our international marketing standards we wouldn’t even contemplate it.”
  3. Lunar Loops
    Many thanks for that Jatelka.
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