Youth to Philip Morris… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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Youth to Philip Morris International: Stop Targeting Kids with “Be Marlboro” Campaign

May 08, 2014

Youth advocates sent a loud and clear message to Philip Morris International this week: We won’t be Marlboro.

Protesting outside Philip Morris’ annual shareholders’ meeting in New York City on Wednesday, the youth called on the tobacco giant to stop targeting kids and immediately end its “Be Marlboro” campaign that is running in more than 50 countries.

Inside the meeting, health advocates presented Philip Morris with an open letter demanding an end to this ad campaign for best-selling Marlboro cigarettes. It was signed by over 250 civil society organizations and representatives of more than 25 governments.

Philip Morris has expanded the “Be Marlboro” campaign globally despite the fact it has been banned by a German court, which found that the ads targets children as young as 14.

A recent report by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and other international public health organizations exposed how the campaign uses themes and images sure to appeal to youth. With the slogan “Don’t Be a Maybe. Be Marlboro,” the ads feature images of attractive young people falling in love, playing music, partying, engaging in adventure sports and other activities popular with youth.

“For decades, Philip Morris’ Marlboro Man campaigns made Marlboro the most popular cigarette with youth across the world – and helped fuel a global tobacco epidemic that is projected to kill one billion worldwide this century,” our president, Matthew L. Myers, wrote in a Huffington Post blog.

“Now the ‘Be Marlboro’ campaign is doing the same thing. It features new images, but the same old themes that tell young people to assert their independence and define themselves by smoking Marlboro cigarettes.”

In addition to calling on Philip Morris to end this campaign, health advocates are calling on countries to enact comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, in accordance with the international tobacco control treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Each year, Philip Morris and other tobacco companies spend billions of dollars to market their deadly and addictive products. Every day, 80,000 to 100,000 young people around the world become addicted to tobacco. Governments worldwide must take strong action to protect children, reduce tobacco use and save lives.