Jul. 28 2008
Washington, D.C. — U.S. singing star Alicia Keys has set a positive example that should be followed by musicians and entertainers worldwide by demanding the withdrawal of tobacco industry sponsorship of her July 31 concert in Jakarta, Indonesia. We applaud Ms. Keys for taking quick action to disassociate herself from the tobacco industry and to prevent her name, image and talent from continuing to be used to market cigarettes to children. It is critical that the tobacco company involved, Philip Morris International/Sampoerna, and concert promoters immediately end the sponsorship and all tobacco-related marketing and branding associated with the concert.
We call on all involved in the music and entertainment industry, including performers and promoters, to follow Alicia Keys' example and adopt policies of rejecting all tobacco sponsorship and other tobacco promotions. We also call on tobacco companies to immediately cease all such sponsorships and promotions.
The World Health Organization's international tobacco control treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, requires ratifying nations to ban all tobacco advertising, promotions and sponsorships. Nations should act quickly to implement this critical provision of the treaty. Even before they do, tobacco companies should immediately cease such sponsorships and promotions, including sporting as well as entertainment events.
In the United States, Philip Morris USA and other major tobacco companies are prohibited from engaging in brand name sponsorships of concerts under a 1998 legal settlement with the states. However, in developing countries, tobacco companies continue to sponsor concerts by famous musicians as a means to market cigarettes to children and to circumvent restrictions on more traditional tobacco advertising.
Alicia Keys' Jakarta concert had been sponsored and heavily advertised by Philip Morris International and its Indonesian subsidiary Sampoerna. According to giant billboards posted in Jakarta (see photos), the concert was billed as "A Mild Live Production". "A Mild" is a cigarette brand produced by Sampoerna. The billboards feature a large photo of Alicia Keys, the logo for "A Mild" cigarettes and a large health warning that states, "Smoking can cause cancer, heart attacks, impotence and harm pregnancy and fetal development."
The Alicia Keys concert is not the only current example of Philip Morris International being involved in the sponsorship or promotion of concerts by well-known musicians. In the Philippines, those seeking tickets to an August 30 reunion concert of the famous Filipino band Eraserheads are being directed to www.marlboro.ph, a web site run by Philip Morris International's Philippines subsidiary. The Eraserheads have been called the "Beatles of the Philippines" and the reunion concert has generated enormous online buzz that often mentions the Marlboro web site, generating positive publicity for the world's best-selling cigarette brand. Philippines authorities should investigate whether marketing for this concert violates a national law that, as of July 1, 2008, bans tobacco sponsorships and all forms of tobacco advertising in mass media, including the Internet.
These concert sponsorships and promotions indicate that Philip Morris International continues to engage in cigarette marketing that attracts children, especially in developing countries where the company may think it can escape public scrutiny. We urge Philip Morris to immediately end all such sponsorships and promotions in all countries, not just when it is caught red-handed as it was in Indonesia.
Last week, international public health advocates called on Alicia Keys to withdraw tobacco industry sponsorship of the Jakarta concert and condemned Philip Morris International for sponsoring the concert as a way of marketing cigarettes to children.
Letters to Alicia Keys and Philip Morris International can be found at tobaccofreekids.org/aliciakeys.