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Canada: the case of the unexpected website
  1. David Simpson
  1. d.simpsoniath.org

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    For some years now, health organisations in several countries have been using creative internet strategies to counter tobacco promotions. One technique is to set up a health oriented website with a very similar name to a tobacco industry site involved in cigarette promotion aimed at internet savvy young people. The key feature of the health site is to give the lie to what the industry site is really all about. For example, in 2002, when BAT was caught out for the second time trying to encourage young people to attend venues where it sold and promoted its cigarettes by using a site called www.citygobo.com, Action on Smoking and Health UK (ASH) set up www.citygobo2.com, which left visitors in no doubt at all about what BAT was up to (see BAT: caught out again. Tobacco Control 2002;11:9).


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    UK: Scotland prepares for smoke-free vote A postcard developed by CAN!, a coalition group campaigning for “cleaner air now”, for people in Scotland to use to lobby members of the Scottish parliament to support a bill to make all workplaces smoke-free, along the lines of the pioneering legislation in Ireland.


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    Joe Chemo, a satirical character used in demonstrations against tobacco promotion before Canada’s total ban, being wheeled to a tobacco sponsored fireworks display in Vancouver. This sort of story and image regularly appeared on the bensonandhedges.org website.

    Now comes news from Canada, where several years ago, Airspace Action on Smoking and Health, faced with a major Benson & Hedges promotion in Vancouver every summer, fought back with, among other things, a crafty website. The group found they could set up a site with the address http://bensonandhedges.org/. Thanks to subsequent tobacco advertising restrictions in Canada, the notorious Benson & Hedges (B&H) Symphony of Fire promotion is now a thing of the past, though it still receives an average of 15 “hits” per day.

    However, while bensonandhedges.org is no longer useful to Airspace, the group has realised that there may be other places in the world where Benson & Hedges cigarettes are still heavily promoted, such as by cricket and other sporting events, so it is asking colleagues around the world to suggest deserving organisations. The domain was about to expire, and understandably, its current sponsors were reluctant to see any companies that promote B&H cigarettes having the chance to claim it for themselves.

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