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Gambia: hey, big boy!

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Among the more telling gaffs by tobacco company employees recently was one heard in the Gambia by a team from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). They found BAT and its Benson and Hedges brand hard at it with teenagers at a beach volleyball tournament. The organisers told the BBC it was laid on during the school holidays for local youths [“young adults”, surely?–Ed]. Yellow B&H banners were everywhere, as were young women in B&H T shirts handing out free cigarettes among the crowd. Like all the big tobacco companies, BAT claims it does not give samples to children under 18, but the women were lighting up cigarettes for youngsters, many of whom looked distinctly under age to the BBC crew, and no-one was checking their age. On being questioned about this, a BAT representative said the age limit was only 15, before quickly correcting herself, and adding: “We only give free cigarettes to big boys.”

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