Artist protest forces BAT to withdraw sponsorship



Friday 19 September 2003

ASH news release:  Immediate release 19 September 2003
A London artist has single-handedly forced giant tobacco company BAT to withdraw from an art exhibition.

Despite new restrictions on tobacco sponsorship of sports and cultural events, BAT had attempted to sponsor a London arts exhibition. Ironically, the exhibition is entitled ‘We love to kill what we love’.

The involvement of BAT in the art show raised the ire of one of the artists displaying his work. Simon Tyszko, appalled at the covert involvement of the tobacco company, interspersed his video installation with anti tobacco messages, revealing to the viewer BAT’s involvement.

As a result of Tyszko’s protest on the opening night, BAT has now, seemingly, withdrawn its support.

The exhibition runs until 12 October 2003 at the old warehouse on 211 St John’s Street, Clerkenwell, London. (Well Bar opposite venue).

Artist Simon Tyszko said:

It’s disgusting that BAT tried to use this exhibition as a front to peddle its deadly products. They even tried to place their cigarette dispensers at the no-smoking venue! A company that is responsible for so many deaths should have no place in the art world. They might have withdrawn their support from this exhibition, but how many other times are they getting away with murder?”

Naj Dehlavi of the anti-tobacco campaigning group ASH, said:

Faced with an advertising ban, the tobacco industry will do anything to get past the law. Art shows like these, with young, ground-breaking and trend-setting artists, are precisely the sort of places the tobacco companies wish to associated with.    Their underhand action underlines the sad fact the tobacco companies have no regard for the law.  So much for their beloved social corporate responsibility.

Notes and links:

[1] Brochure for exhibition (pdf)

[2] A bit about Simon Tyszko: www.theculture.net

[3] Relevant sections from the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act 2002:

+ Prohibition of sponsorship: www.hmso.gov.uk/acts/acts2002/20020036.htm#10

+ Prohibition of free distributions: www.hmso.gov.uk/acts/acts2002/20020036.htm#9

+ The Act in full: www.hmso.gov.uk/acts/acts2002/20020036.htm