BAT in its own words: Tobacco company papers show truth behind greenwash
Thursday 28 April 2005
MEDIA RELEASE: 00.01hrs Thursday 28th April 2005
10.30am Thursday 28th April, Mermaid Theatre, Puddle Dock, Blackfriars, London EC4V 3DB
BAT glamour girls and boys will be distributing cigarette cards to shareholders outside the BAT AGM highlighting questions over the company’s ethical behaviour. They will be wearing T-shirts which say ‘Can You Trust BAT?’ on the front and a question mark on the back.
A new report, published today (Thursday 28th April), shows how the world’s second largest tobacco company, British American Tobacco (BAT) hides the damage it causes to health, development and the environment behind a mask of “corporate social responsibility” . The report, “BAT in its Own Words”, published by Christian Aid, Friends of the Earth and Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) to coincide with the company’s annual general meeting  uses internal BAT memos, emails and letters to question whether shareholders should trust what the company says
“BAT in its Own Words” shows how, behind the façade of social and environmental responsibility:
Key examples of quotes from BAT internal documents are given in Note 4 of this release
BAT makes profits of more than £2.7 billion a year from a 15 per cent share of the world tobacco market. As about 5 million people die from tobacco-related diseases every year, BAT’s 300 brands of cigarettes sold in 180 countries could be causing up to three-quarters of a million premature deaths. The BAT Director responsible for the companies’ policy on corporate social responsibility is Ken Clarke MP, former Tory Health Secretary.
Friends of the Earth, ASH, and Christian Aid said the report shows why companies – especially those operating in industries producing hazardous products – should not be left to regulate themselves. The organisations are calling on the UK Government to reform company law so that all UK-based companies are accountable for their social and environmental impacts wherever in the world they operate  and to back new international standards to govern corporate behaviour.
Friends of the Earth Director Tony Juniper said:
“This report exposes how companies which have something to hide use Corporate Social Responsibility to deflect attention and discourage regulation. But such CSR should clearly be treated with a pinch of salt. Companies like BAT will not act in the best interests of society
or the environment unless legislation forces them to do so. That is why the Company Law Reform Bill due to be introduced in the new Parliament represents such an important opportunity for better regulation.”
ASH Director Deborah Arnott said:
“Tobacco firms like BAT hide behind glossy reports and boast of Corporate Social Responsibility. But this report shows the cynicism and deceit behind the public face. It should be read by decision-makers, campaigners and health professionals in every country where BAT seeks sales. Companies like BAT offer the ultimate devil’s bargain. When they enter developing countries in search of new markets, they come with a smile a handshake and an open cheque book. But they leave behind nothing but a trail of addiction, misery and death.”
Christian Aid Director Dr Daleep Mukarji said:
“BAT and many of its shareholders are based in Britain and it is in this country that many of the financial benefits of BAT’s irresponsibility are reaped. “We cannot wash our hands of the impact companies such as BAT have on poor countries whose regulations are weaker than ours. Our Government must enact new laws to hold such companies to account wherever they work.”
 The report is draws on internal BAT documents, which are stored at the company’s depository in Guildford but are available for scrutiny following the tobacco industry’s 1998 legal settlement with the State of Minnesota in the United States. These were accessed with assistance from researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
 BAT’s AGM is held at 11am at the Mermaid Theatre, Puddle Dock, Blackfriars EC4V 3DB
 For more information download www.ash.org.uk/files/documents/ASH_371.pdf
 Key quotes from internal BAT papers include (page numbers given refer to report):
“BAT in its Own Words” is available for download as a PDF at www.ash.org.uk/files/documents/ASH_371.pdf