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
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

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
News
scienceScientists have developed a material so dark you can't see it...
News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
Gavin Maxwell in Sandaig with one of his pet otters
peopleWas the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?
News
Rowsell says: 'Wearing wigs is a way of looking normal. I pick a style and colour and stick to it because I don't want to keep wearing different styles'
peopleThe World Champion cyclist Joanna Rowsell on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
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
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

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?