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USA: New York protest
  1. David Simpson

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    Demonstrators outside the UN building in New York, calling on the US government to take a more responsible role in the FCTC negotiations.

    In a year when the world grew ever more cynical about the United States’ role in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) negotiations, it was heartening to see protests by US citizens calling on their government to take a responsible, leadership role in support of a tough convention. In July, several hundred people, including around 200 teenagers involved with the Reality Check youth empowerment programme, convened near the United Nations headquarters in New York City. Their message to the US delegation to the FCTC negotiations was: “Save Lives, Not Big Tobacco!”. The centrepiece of the demonstration was a large model of a Marlboro pack, subtly improved to specify the contents as “US pack of lies”.

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    These children’s shorts were bought recently in Niger. No doubt the makers of Marlboro, if contacted about promoting the brand to children, would throw their hands up in horror and decry the outrageous and illicit reproduction of their logo, and commission teams of writ-bearing lawyers to scour Niger’s street markets trying to track down the culprits. But even if the shorts were produced entirely independently of the manufacturers, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. The very fact that tobacco brands are among the most popular brands for illicit copying in many of the poorest countries in the world illustrates just how well known, positive, and youth friendly are the images created for cigarettes by promotional activities.

    Accompanying the pack were two large, removable cigarettes bearing common ‘lies’ that delegates said were repeatedly been promoted by both the US delegation and Philip Morris, makers of real life Marlboro cigarettes. Another two cigarettes bore straight statements, such as “Tobacco Money is Addictive”. Being New York, noted for the sardonic humour of its citizens, one of the cigarettes proclaimed: “Low Tar Death is Healthier”.

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