Young people demand the return of “blood money” at Imperial Tobacco AGM

Wednesday 03 February 2016

Today a group of young people and public health advocates demonstrated outside the Imperial Tobacco’s AGM. Dressed as Count and Countess Tobacula and other vampires, they were protesting against the huge profits of the industry and calling on the company to return “blood money” to society. Imperial Tobacco, the fourth largest tobacco company in the world, has around a 45% share of the UK cigarette market [1]. Last year it made over £3 billion in profit worldwide. [2] Meanwhile around 100,000 people in the UK die from smoking related diseases every year [3].

Tobacco costs society in England almost £14 billion a year. In Bristol alone this figure is estimated to be over £110 million a year. [4]

Cecilia Farren, anti-smoking campaigner from GASP Consultancy[5], and chair of Southwest ASH, who attended the AGM to question Imperial, said:

“Imperial Tobacco makes huge profits, and at the same time their products harm and kill their customers. We are calling for a stake through the heart of Imperial’s Count Tobacula and his Countess who are sucking blood money, health and life from hapless smokers who are caught in the trap of nicotine addiction from an early age.”

Bristol Councillor Fi Hance, who joined the demonstration added:

“Smoking places a huge financial and emotional burden on families and it is shameful that a Bristol based company is profiting from the sale of their deadly products across the world. It is fantastic to see these young people taking a stand on this important issue”.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, said:

“The profits of the tobacco industry continue to grow, whilst the products they sell result in the death and disease of thousands and untold grief to families all over the country. At the same time, smoking costs society billions of pounds every year. The tobacco industry should be made to pay for the damage it does”.

Notes and Links:

[1] HM Treasury – Levy Consultation Imperial Tobacco response. 18 Feb. 2015
[2] Imperial Tobacco Annual Report 2015
[3] Estimated premature deaths for the devolved nations are as follows: England – 79,100; Scotland – 13,000; Wales – 5,500; N. Ireland – 2,300.
– Statistics on smoking: England, 2012
– ScotPHO Smoking Ready Reckoner – 2011
– Edition Welsh Government – Health Improvement
– NIdirect – smoking
[4] ASH Ready Reckoner, December 2015

[5] GASP Consultancy provides smoking education and tobacco control talks and project support. (GASP Consultancy has just launched its website