Letter: Smoke screens

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Sir: The tobacco industry is very far from being "on its last gasp" ("A fag-end of a job", 9 October). In addition to responding forcefully to constraints on their activities in the UK, the tobacco multinationals are increasingly turning their attention to poorer countries where restrictions on marketing tobacco products are often weaker.

The Third World is under attack from a hail of aggressive marketing tactics now banned in Europe. Women and children are particular targets. In Vietnam, for example, children proudly wear T-shirts sporting the logo of a British cigarette brand and an ad for the World Cup in 2002. And in Sri Lanka the local subsidiary of a British company employs women to drive around in bright red jeeps handing out cigarettes, lighters and key-chains.

If present trends continue unchecked, smoking-related deaths in developing countries will increase from 1 million per year at present to 7 million per year by 2030.

We need global standards on tobacco marketing so that the tobacco multinationals can't simply escape regulation in one country by moving somewhere else.


Campaigns Officer

World Development Movement

London SW9