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Brazil: tough nut cracked

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Brazil is the world's fifth largest country, with a vibrant economy and a vast, impressionable, fashion conscious youth population. What better place to sell cigarettes? “There's an awful lot of starters in Brazil” might be the modern parody of the old song about coffee, this one possibly sung by officials of British American Tobacco's (BAT) local subsidiary Souza Cruz, which dominates the market. For many years it has been laughing all the way to the bank with the spoils from such strikingly promotion friendly brands as Hollywood.

So it comes as all the more of a surprise, and a tonic to weary tobacco control advocates everywhere, that last November, the Senate passed a tobacco advertising ban, covering ads on television and radio, and in newspapers and magazines, and outdoor billboards and merchandising. The new law also prohibits tobacco sponsorship of sports and cultural events, with a two year grace period to end sponsorship contracts. While the bill was due to return to the lower house of parliament for ratification of certain alterations made during its passage through the senate at the time of writing, it was expected to pass into law within a matter of weeks. It can be done, as a pioneering Norwegian might put it.