Anti-smokers fume about Craig David gig

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The Independent Culture

Anti-smoking campaigners are furious the singer Craig David is to perform in a concert in Malaysia partly sponsored by a tobacco company.

David, who boasts a clean-living image, is to take part in the concert in Penang on 11 October, backed by Japan Tobacco International, which makes the Salem brand of cigarettes.

Campaigners in Malaysia and Britain believe he should withdraw in case young people will see his involvement as an endorsement of smoking.

Naj Dehlavi from the organisation Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) has written to David's management to ask whether the young performer wanted to do the industry's "dirty work" in Malaysia.

"Is Craig David really willing to be used by the tobacco industry to market cigarettes to his young fans?" he said.

"Sponsorship of cultural and musical events by tobacco companies have been banned by the UK government because of the net effect of marketing a deadly product to largely young audiences."

Tickets were being advertised as available to people over the age of 18 but promotional material for the concert was being widely distributed and not limited to the venue.

Deborah Arnott, Ash's director, said: "There is a great deal of evidence to show that when a role model is involved with promoting something that it has an impact on young people and the amount of smoking they do. That is why tobacco advertising has been banned in this country."

But a spokesman for Craig David replied that the event involved Salem Cool Planet, a chain of record stores owned by JTI, rather than the cigarette brand itself.

"There is no advertising of any kind that we have seen that includes both Salem and Craig David. To this end, Craig David is not promoting or condoning smoking or cigarettes."

Craig David was not the headline act for the event, which had sponsorship from many other commercial brands including Starbucks, Carlsberg and Adidas, the spokesman added.

It is not known whether the singer was aware of the issue - and the bad feeling it has stirred up - before it was raised this week by Ash.