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Philip Morris International Fined in Brazil for Targeting Youth with its “Be Marlboro” Ads

August 28, 2014


Philip Morris International's “Be Marlboro” campaign is coming under fire again for targeting youth. This time, the consumer protection agency from the Brazilian state of São Paulo has fined Philip Morris over $480,000.

The agency acted after a formal complaint was filed against Philip Morris by tobacco control activists who documented how its marketing tactics were aimed at youth. Paula Johns, Executive Director of the Brazilian advocacy organization ACT, calls the campaign 'cynical', noting that “independence and autonomy are associated with a product that actually makes the person dependent.'

Be Marlboro has already been banned by a German court for targeting teens, and consumer complaints have been filed in four countries.

Earlier this year, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and other public health groups released a report exposing how the Be Marlboro campaign – Philip Morris' replacement for the long-running Marlboro Man campaign – uses themes and images that appeal to youth across the globe.

Philip Morris has now rolled out the campaign in more than 50 countries worldwide featuring ads celebrating youthful themes like risk-taking, exploration, freedom and defying authority. The ads feature attractive young people partying, flirting, playing music and surfing. The campaign has also sponsored concerts and parties, posted numerous online videos, and staged interactive promotional booths at shopping malls.

Our report calls on Philip Morris to immediately end the Be Marlboro campaign. It also calls on governments to enact comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship in accordance with the international tobacco control treaty, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which Brazil is a party to. With Be Marlboro blatantly violating bans on targeting youth, more governments will hopefully follow São Paulo in taking action against Philip Morris.