Feb. 18 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C. – International and Mexican public health leaders today harshly criticized Philip Morris for its sponsorship of a four concert series entitled Marlboro MXBeat that unquestionably appeals to youth and violates Mexico’s national tobacco control law and urged the Mexican government to act quickly to stop these concerts by enforcing its new national tobacco control law.
The Mexico national law explicitly prohibits the tobacco industry from any form of sponsorship that promotes tobacco products or tobacco use, yet the Marlboro MXBeat concerts are being heavily promoted and advertised by Philip Morris and the Mexican government has failed to act.
The failure of the Mexican government to enforce its own laws puts Mexico’s youth at risk and undermines respect for the rule of law.
The Philip Morris concerts are being heavily advertised and are taking place in four of the main cities in Mexico, including Guadalajara, Puebla, Monterrey and Mexico City. The concert series – which features a variety of music groups including the hugely popular N*E*R*D, Vampire Weekend, Girl Talk and recent Grammy nominee Nortec, appeal widely to Mexican youth. Promotional materials for the concerts include advertisements in magazines such as Chilango and GQ, billboards, a promotional Web site, and blogs.
The Marlboro MXBeat concerts and their promotion clearly violate Mexico’s national General Tobacco Control Law, which took effect in August 2008. Article 23 of the General Law prohibits “any form of sponsorship as a means of placing the elements of any brand of tobacco products or that promotes the purchase and use of tobacco products by the population.” Promotional materials for the Marlboro concerts, including the name of the concert itself, are clearly and explicitly branded and therefore in direct violation of the law.
In addition, according to the law, “publicity and promotion of tobacco products may only be aimed at adults through adult magazines, personal communication by mail or within establishments exclusively for adult access.” The Marlboro MXBeat concerts are publicized and promoted on the Marlboro Web site and on a wide variety of blogs, which can be easily accessed without age verification. In addition, age verification is not requested when Chilango and GQ magazines are purchased.
Sonia Meza, tobacco control coordinator for the Mexico City InterAmerican Heart Foundation said, “The government must take action to uphold Mexico’s strong tobacco control law, as well as to protect Mexican youth from the influence of the tobacco industry’s irresponsible and illegal marketing. With approximately 27 percent of Mexican youth smoking, we must take all possible action to uphold and enforce our laws.”
Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids adds, “Philip Morris is once again engaging in cigarette marketing that appeals to children. Not only is this sponsorship in blatant defiance of Mexican law, but tobacco companies should stop engaging in youth-oriented marketing everywhere. Philip Morris International and its subsidiaries should immediately cease all such sponsorships and promotions in all countries.”
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. To date, 163 countries, including Mexico, have ratified the treaty.
Currently, about 24 percent of the Mexican population smokes, and tobacco use kills more than 153,000 Mexicans each year. Specifically, smoking causes 80 percent of all chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) cases in Mexico, 25 percent of cardiovascular diseases, and 85 percent of all lung cancer cases.