World No Tobacco Day: BAT weasels its way into World Cup. 180 organisation say ‘butt out’

Friday 31 May 2002

World No Tobacco Day – 31 May 2002

Over 180 non-governmental organisations [1] have hit out against British American Tobacco (BAT), which has managed to weasel their way into continuing its sponsorship of the television broadcasting of the World Cup to Malaysia despite efforts by FIFA to make this years’ World Cup tobacco free (2).  The advertising by BAT in Malaysia is even in violation of BAT’s own weak voluntary code.  Countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa have cried foul at tobacco companies’ efforts to use the World Cup to promote cigarettes.  Some examples include:

·         In Malaysia British American Tobacco is sponsoring the telecasts of the World Cup.  They have launched an ultimate football website, enticing everyone above age 18 to join a competition that offers a trip to Yokohama, Japan (one of the venues of the World Cup 2002).

·         In 1996, BAT signed a 10 year contract with the Soccer Federation of Niger (Fédération Nigérienne de Football).  This contract ensures the promotion of BAT Rothman cigarettes in soccer fields throughout Niger. In 1998 BAT built 7 “New Line” pavilions and placed them strategically in Niamey’s intersections, even in front of schools.  These pavilions are a gathering place where youth congregate, play and have access to cheap cigarettes. It is in those pavilions that BAT will broadcast live matches of the World Cup 2002 on giant screens.

·         The Korea Tobacco and Ginseng Monopoly are using soccer images on packages of their TIME cigarettes

·         In Pakistan the transmission of the World Cup has been paid for by a Philip Morris subsidiary  (the ‘Pakistani Tobacco Company’) and promoted by the cigarette brand ‘Diplomat’.(3)

·         Uruguayan company Monte Paz’s ‘Nevada’ cigarette brand is the official sponsor of the Uruguayan team in the World Cup. All the television programs in Uruguay are subtitled “Official sponsor of the Uruguayan team: Nevada.” *

A total ban on tobacco advertising and sponsorship is one of the cornerstones of the international treaty on tobacco control currently being negotiated.  At previous negotiations a majority of nations involved in the treaty negotiations recognised the vital importance of a global tobacco advertising and sponsorship ban.

The theme for World No Tobacco Day (31 May 2002) is ‘tobacco-free sports’ and coincides with the opening of the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan.  In support of this FIFA (the Federation Internationale de Football Association) has declared the World Cup smokefree.  The over 180 members of the Framework Convention Alliance calls on the sporting world to reject any association with tobacco.

Clive Bates of ASH in London said:

British American Tobacco and other tobacco companies just aren’t wanted at the World Cup or anywhere else in football – they aren’t invited to the party so they’ve come in the back door like rude and anti-social gatecrashers..

They just can’t resist the promotional opportunities of the World Cup and they are determined to use it to push Dunhill cigarettes to young football fanatics in developing countries like Malaysia.  Why can’t they just butt out and leave football to be a celebration of life and sport?  It’s not meant to be some sleazy marketing deal for selling fags in the third world.

FIFA really needs to come down hard on this.  If they want a smoke-free World Cup, then they need to keep a tighter rein on the TV rights and not just allow them to be sold on to a tobacco company.  For kids in Malaysia, BAT will look like it is a main sponsor of the World Cup, but FIFA has done nothing to stop this abuse of its image rights.



1. The Framework Convention Alliance (FCA) is an alliance of over 180 non-governmental organisations from around the world that are working to support the development of a strong, evidence-based Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and related protocols under the auspices of the WHO. For further information on the Framework Convention Alliance please visit our website at: .

2. The World Cup has been declared a tobacco-free competition under an accord struck between FIFA  and the World Health Organisation, a UN body, with cigarette advertising and sponsorship banned.

3. Philip Morris has a 20% share ownership of Pakistani Lakson Company


·         See ASH exposé of BAT Malaysia’s use of the World Cup and English Premier League, together with top superstars like Owen, Beckham etc.

·         The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is a global treaty addressing trans-national and trans-border issues, such as advertising, smuggling and trade, which is currently being negotiated by national governments.  The FCTC is also serving as an important catalyst in strengthening national tobacco control legislation.  The negotiation of the FCTC represents an historic opportunity for global action to curtain the tobacco epidemic.  For further information please visit the World Health Organisation website at:




+ Mary Assunta (Malaysia): +61 2 9351 7789 (office hours) 61 2 95175464 (after hours)

+ Olcott Gunasekera (Sri Lanka): +94 1 597156 (office hours) +94 1 862548 (after hours)


+ Yussuf Salooje (South Africa): +27 1 1 643 2958 (office hours)

+ Philip Karugaba (Uganda): +256 77 785 332 (office hours)


+ Judy Wilkenfeld (USA): +202 296 5469 (office hours)

+ Elinor Wilson (Canada): +613 569-4361 ext. 332 (office hours)


+ Clive Bates (United Kingdom): +44 20 7739 5902 (office) +44 77 6879 1237 (mobile)


+ Shane Bradbrook (New Zealand): 64 4 499 6494 (office hours) 64 25 728 448 (mobile)

+ Colin Richardson (Papua New Guinea): +675 472 1488 (office hours) +675 472 5657 (after hours)

* When this release was originally posted, we described Nevada as a BAT brand, which we accept it is not at this time.  We are happy to respond to BAT’s request and we clarify that Nevada is not their brand. The release above has been amended accordingly.