Tobacco giants merge and are set to flood Third World with deadly habit

TWO OF the world's biggest tobacco companies announced their plans to join forces yesterday and create a pounds 13bn cigarette rolling machine.

The merger of British American Tobacco (BAT) and Rothmans International was hailed by the City, which sent their shares spiralling upwards, but was condemned by anti-smoking campaigners who said it amounted to a declaration of war on the developing world.

The deal will create a global corporation producing a staggering 900 billion cigarettes a year at a time when tobacco sales are declining in the West.

With a war chest swollen by savings from rationalisation - jobs will go, a BAT spokesman admitted yesterday - the new multi-national is expected to target the growing markets in China, Africa, India and the Far East. In doing so, it is set to cause more deaths than any war, disease or famine has yet claimed.

It is estimated that cigarettes will claim four million lives a year worldwide by 2000 and ten million a year by 2030, of which seven million will be in the developing world, according to health experts.

But the question is whether the tobacco industry dies before its customers.

The Nineties has been a decade of unparalleled turmoil for the industry in the West, with anti-smoking legislation and a clutch of multi-billion dollar lawsuits turning smokers into social pariahs. The marriage of BAT and Rothmans is set to be followed by further partnerships as the industry retrenches and repositions itself.

The anti-smoking pressure group Ash claimed yesterday that more people would die worldwide as a result of the deal.

The British Medical Association said: "This is an industry on the defensive. What is alarming is that it is overtly striving to recruit new smokers in the developing world because it is under huge pressure in Western markets."

The deal will reinforce BAT's position as the world's second biggest private cigarette company, behind the United States company Philip Morris, makers of Marlboro. Rothmans is the fourth largest cigarette group and the combined operation, which employs 2,300 people in the United Kingdom, will control more than 16 per cent of the global cigarette market, 1 per cent less than Philip Morris's share.

The new company will still be well behind the state-owned Chinese National Tobacco Corporation, thought to hold about one-third of the market.

Only Rothmans, which makes Peter Stuyvesant, Dunhill and Winfield and has an agreement with Philip Morris to market Marlboro in Britain, has significant sales in the UK. BAT's international brands include State Express 555, Lucky Strike, Kent, Players and Pall Mall. It also makes Benson & Hedges for sale outside the UK - Britain's B&Hs are made by Gallaher. Despite the retreat from smoking in the West, global sales are continuing to rise, up by one-quarter since 1980. Estimates suggest that smoking is declining by 1 per cent a year in industrialised countries but rising by 2 per cent a year in the developing world.

BAT has cashed in on this growing Third World market. It sells 240 brands manufactured in more than 50 countries and owns the top selling brand in 30 markets.

Analysts calculate, however, that Western companies have barely scratched the surface of markets in the developing world - for instance, in China barely one in ten cigarettes sold comes from a Western manufacturer, the remainder being produced by the state-owned corporation.

Partly because of government involvement in the industry, China is heading for the world's greatest smoking disaster, claiming the lives of an estimated 100 million Chinese men now under 30, one-third of the young male population.

The figure is based on the world's largest study of the hazards of tobacco in which scientists from China, the US and Britain interviewed the families of one million people who died between 1986 and 1988.

Professor Richard Peto, of Oxford University, one of the principal authors of the study published in the British Medical Journal, said Chinese adults severely underestimated the risks of smoking, with 60 per cent unaware that it caused lung cancer.

Yesterday, Professor Peto said: "If this merger means more cigarette sales it'll mean more cigarette deaths because half of all smokers eventually get killed by their habit unless they can manage to quit.

BAT and Rothmans currently provide one-sixth of the world's tobacco. The cigarettes sold by these two companies are already causing more than half a million deaths a year and 20 years from now they will be causing a million deaths a year worldwide."

Tobacco companies are already targeting young people in promotional events across the developing world. In 1997, BAT sponsored China's first rave event in the town of Shenzen.

The company logo was displayed prominently on video screens and elsewhere in the night club. In Malaysia, the company evades the ban on direct advertising by promoting the "Benson and Hedges Bistro" - a coffee shop in Kuala Lumpur. Advertisements for the cafe are broadcast across the country.

Shares soar, page 13

Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth gamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game