Anti-Tobacco Network (ATN) Botswana has condemned the tobacco industry Youth Smoking Prevention campaign, which they say deceptively entices children to their harmful tobacco products.
In a press statement released last week, ATN criticised the irresponsible conduct of, and fatal deception by British American Tobacco Botswana (BATB) stating that it was a subsidiary of the global UK-based tobacco giant British American Tobacco, which is actively engaged in a campaign created to undermine and compete with more effective youth smoking prevention campaigns sponsored by the Government and non-governmental organisations.
“In line with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) global treaty, of which Botswana is a Party to, the ATN asserts that the industry be prohibited from involvement in any youth, public education, or other tobacco control initiative, and calls upon the Botswana Confederation of Commerce Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM) and on its affiliates to reassess their partnership with the tobacco industry,” it stated. ATN also stated that the BATB youth outreach campaign specifically breached the provisions of the Control of Smoking Act and deceptively advertises cigarettes in violation of Botswana’s Anti-Tobacco Legislation through the planned distribution of more than 300,000 branded stickers, posters, t- shirts and caps during the two-month campaign.
The statement also emphasised that ATN observed on the campaign’s logo, the number “1” is designed to resemble a cigarette which clearly violates Section 13 of the provisions of the Control of Smoking Act Cap 65:04. “The Act states that tobacco advertising “means any words written, printed or spoken, or film, video recording or other medium broadcast or telecast, or pictorial representation, design or device used to encourage the use of or notify the availability of, or promote the sale of any tobacco or tobacco product, or to promote smoking behaviour,” the statement added.
BATB recently launched an extensive youth smoking prevention (YSP) campaign in Gaborone, focused on preventing the underage accessing tobacco products in retail stores. The campaign, which was sub-divided into two phases, was intended to curb the increasing level of underage smoking and help younger children avoid the temptation to smoke. The first phase was launched across the country in December and is expected to fold at the end of January 2015.
BATB trade marketing officer, John Masala said to give the campaign high visibility, over 300,000 stickers and 18+ posters, t-shirts and caps were displayed and distributed as a deterrent to minors and “a reminder to our trade partners of our campaign to prevent underage smoking.” Masala further said BATB was committed to working with their trade partners to prevent underage children’s access to their products and to also run or support programmes that included proof of age schemes as well as eye catching signs which clearly stated that sales would not be made to children, as well as identify underage buyers and refuse to sell to them.
“This is to reiterate that children are not our target customers and the more difficult we make it for them to get their hands on cigarettes, the less likely they are to smoke. We hope this will play a significant part in stopping many children becoming the next generation of cigarette addicts,” he emphasised.