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Friday, October 16, 2009


By Seun Akioye
Dominant tobacco manufacturing company in Nigeria, the British American Tobacco Nigeria (BATN) has intensified its Corporate Responsibility campaign with the full page advertorial in the Guardian newspaper of October 15th 2009.

The Corporate Responsibility advertisement published by the British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation (BATNF) featured the various gift presentations to certain section of the tobacco farming community in Nigeria. Such presentations include goats, provision of bore hole and teaching the skills in fish farming.

The advertisement also coincide with an advertorial by the Nigerian Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA) and Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) published in the Punch newspaper of the same date asking the Senate to fast track the passage of the National Tobacco Control Bill. The advertorial published under the title ‘Tobacco Facts’ is part of a series of enlightenment campaign lecture by the groups. The publication has dealth with various issues regarding tobacco and health in Nigeria

Meanwhile tobacco control community has reacted swiftly condemning the action and calling the publication of the tobacco company as indirect advertisement. The NTCA in a statement condemned the advertorial calling it propaganda. “There are more pressing social issues in Nigeria that BATN foundation can tackle not the feakle corporate social responsibility of providing goats and garri for farmers. This is indirect advertisement and we condemn it in totality. Let them however spend that money in looking for a solution to the various ailments caused by their products.”

Media officer ERA/FoEN, Philip Jakpor also in a statement described the publication of the CSR efforts as shambles. “ This is another way of advertising. It is designed to boost the ego and promote the products of British American Tobacco and the gesture does not in any way reflect the true belief of the tobacco industry. It has been asked and we ask again ‘ can a company that produces a product that kills its users ever be socially responsible? The first thing to do to be socially responsible is to stop the production of lethal products. Before they do that, we are calling for Corporate Accountability.”

Interestingly, advertising and marketing sponsorship of any tobacco products have been banned in Nigeria since 2004.