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Papua New Guinea: black mark for Red Cross

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Bad news from Papua New Guinea (PNG), where BAT has once again sponsored the Red Cross Miss PNG Quest, as ironically (or cynically) reported on 31 May, World No Tobacco Day. The Quest was somewhat defensively described by its chairperson, Ms Sue Darby, as a fund raising effort to benefit the charity work of the Red Cross, in which she said judgement was based on the intelligence, talents, and efforts of the entrants, and “not a beauty contest, as some think”. More to the point, BAT's PNG corporate affairs manager Mr Vai Reva said of the 7500 Kina (approximately US$3000) sponsorship, its sixth annual donation: “We see that the Red Cross plays a very, very big role in the society, and we'd like to associate ourselves with the good work that the Red Cross is doing in the country.” Quite so.

The inevitable quote from Ms Darby on behalf of the Red Cross expressing grateful appreciation included the mystifying statement that the sponsorship was “a positive gesture of support from the public”. Perhaps BAT is so much in charge of things in PNG that Ms Darby's confusion of it with the public is understandable; or maybe the smell of the money distorted her reasoning abilities. Then again, she may simply lack some of those vital qualities required of entrants to the Miss PNG Quest. Whichever is the case, young women in PNG may in future be just that little bit less likely to appreciate the scale of the risk they run of contracting a serious disease if they become addicted to the sponsor's products.

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