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The annual general meeting of British American Tobacco (BAT) was also the scene of significant participation by health agents. While less disrupted outwardly by comparison to its US equivalents (see above), shareholders had to listen to protests by a young Nigerian, Adeola Akinremi, that BAT was selling cigarettes in quantities of two rather than packs of ten or twenty, something illegal in the UK for many years. Jeffries Briginshaw, BAT’s head of international, political and regulatory affairs made the mistake of insisting that this was not the case; but Adeola promptly showed the meeting a copy of an advertisement providing clear evidence of his claim.
This was just part of a carefully planned campaign by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). With the help of tobacco control colleagues in developing countries, ASH had compiled a report, You’ve got to be kidding - How BAT promotes its brands to young people around the world. The publication, supported by evidence of the type so often seen in these pages, clearly illustrates that for all its public relations spin about corporate social responsibility, it is business as usual for BAT, in its marketing to youth, just as it is in terms of sales and profits. In 2006, total sales were the equivalent of US$49.6 billion, with profits up seven per cent to US$5.1 billion.
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