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Oman: ships that pass in the night

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Fresh from its narrow escape after encountering unforecast publicity storms in Pakistan (see Tobacco Control2000;9:361), BAT's John Player Gold Leaf ocean going sailing boat slipped silently into a private marina in Oman on 8 November, and slipped just as silently out again three days later. No hyped-up mass media publicity, no parties, or discos. Not a free sample in sight, even for “young adults”. A local agent arranged for some media personnel to meet the boat and its intrepid crew, but a subsequent search of newspapers and other media indicated that the boat had, as it were, sunk without trace.

Health officials in the Gulf sultanate believe that the distinctly low key nature of the visit was the result of strong pressure on municipal authorities and the Ministry of Commerce not to grant the floating cigarette ad any promotional permits, as well as official representations to government owned newspapers. Nevertheless, the incident has renewed their conviction of the need for comprehensive legislation, to ensure that next time, tobacco companies do not even bother trying it on.