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Health advocates in Uganda were justly proud when the first anti-tobacco billboard at a sports ground in East Africa was unveiled at the Kampala Rugby Football Club last year. It resulted from a Ush2 000 000 (US$1250) sponsorship package for the Kobs Rugby Football Club put together by The Environmental Action Network (TEAN), a group of young Ugandan lawyers, and Kampala's Bon Appetit Restaurant. A particularly pleasing irony is that the same billboard was previously used by BAT for Embassy cigarette ads. Kobs is a leading rugby team that draws its players from secondary schools, and the sponsorship package stipulates that the players will wear No Smoking logos on the leg of their shorts, and will sign a no smoking pledge to keep their game smoke-free. There are also plans to play recordings of health warnings against tobacco during Kobs games.
BAT has long been a major sponsor of sports in Uganda (
), but the Kobs billboard reflects the increasing strength of the local anti-tobacco lobby, which is drawn from the medical, legal, sporting, media, and other sectors. In May 2000, a three year campaign resulted in BAT withdrawing its 10 year sponsorship of the Sportsman of the Year Gala of the Ugandan Sports Press Association (