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Sri Lanka: another nail in BAT's coffin

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Following BAT's humiliation in 1999, when its ocean going yacht John Player Gold Leaf was prevented from entering the port of Galle (Tobacco Control2000;9:9–15), popular feeling against tobacco promotion has continued to grow. In April, there was widespread media coverage of the death of Cecil Perera, a cancer patient who in 1997 filed a lawsuit against the Ceylon Tobacco Company (CTC), BAT's Sri Lankan subsidiary, claiming compensation for his ill health. His case had also received further publicity when he later participated in seminars with former “Winston man” Alan Landers when Landers visited Sri Lanka. On the day of Mr Perera's funeral, a number of attacks were reported on CTC's distribution vans.

Poster representing Mr Cecil Perera, who died from smoking related cancer, lying in his coffin.

To mark World No Tobacco Day on 31 May 2001, the Swarna Hansa Foundation produced a poster representing Mr Perera lying in his coffin, which was displayed on walls in Polonnaruwa, where the dead man had been living. The poster looks like one of CTC's Gold Leaf advertisements, and includes the slogan “long satisfaction” borrowed from CTC. Its caption says, “Cecil Perera, the smoking-related cancer patient who filed action for damages, passed away prematurely.” The bottom line of copy, “Join the Team, Die on Dream”, is a pastiche of Gold Leaf's ubiquitous “Join the Team, Live the Dream” slogan. Swarna Hansa hopes that actions of this sort will arouse the feelings of young people against tobacco promotion, and help the public to identify the real culprits in the continuing tragedy of disease and premature deaths caused by tobacco.