Craig David – Penang’s Pied Piper?

Friday 03 October 2003

ASH news release:  Immediate –  3 October 2003
Craig David, one of the UK’s leading R&B and Hip Hop artists, has roused the wrath of anti-tobacco campaigners by allowing Japan Tobacco International (JTI) to muscle in on his STYA (Slicker Than Your Average) Tour [1].

Craig David is currently on the Far-East leg of the tour and is due to perform in Penang, Malaysia on 11  October 2003. However, anti-tobacco campaigners in Malaysia have discovered  that JTI is sponsoring the Penang leg of the tour with its Salem brand of cigarettes [2]. This, despite Malaysia’s restrictions on tobacco sponsorship.

ASH have written to Craig David’s agent asking if the artist was aware of JTI’s involvement and whether he is now going to ask the tobacco multi-national to withdraw from his gig in Penang.

Deborah Arnott, Director of the anti-smoking campaigning charity ASH, said:

What we and our Malaysian colleagues want to know is whether Craig David knew about the tobacco sponsorship?  And now that the matter is out in the open, is he going to ask JTI to withdraw; and if not, why not?

Is Craig David really willing to be used by the tobacco industry to market cigarettes to his young fans? Tobacco sponsorship is outlawed in the UK – why would Craig David want to do the industry’s  dirty work in Malaysia? [3]

That young British talent is being used by tobacco companies to market cigarettes abroad is appalling. British performers on foreign tours should ensure that tobacco companies don’t stroll centre-stage along with them. We call on Craig David to insist JTI pulls out. 

Malaysian anti-tobacco advocate and  steering committee member of the Framework Convention Alliance [4], Mary Assunta said:

JTI is going against the spirit of its own International Tobacco Products Marketing Standards which claims no advertisement will feature a celebrity or contain an endorsement, implied or express, by a celebrity. The bottom line is JTI’s Salem is sponsoring an entertainment event with a 21 year old international star whose fans are mostly young Malaysians and this is outrageous.

JTI is demonstrating contempt for Malaysia‘s ban on all indirect advertising and sponsorship activities by tobacco companies which came into effect this January 2003. This is clearly a double standard. JTI wouldn’t do this in the UK or the US. For that matter neither will Craig David perform under a tobacco brand name back in his home country. He should not do this in Malaysia either. 

Sponsorship of cultural and musical events by tobacco companies have been banned by the UK government because of the net effect of marketing a deadly product to largely young audiences. [5]

As yet,  neither Craig David’s agent nor management have responded to ASH.

Notes and links:


[2] Document confirming Salem sponsorship:

[3]  According to the World health Organisation:

“Studies show about 30%of adolescent boys (aged 12 to 18) smoke in Malaysia and smoking among female teens is rising.  According to two studies on teens conducted in 1996 and 1999, the numbers of female teens smoking rose from 4.8% to 8%. Overall, the 1999 study found nearly one in five teens smokes.  Malaysia has also been dubbed the “indirect advertising capital” of the world. Some of the tobacco industry’s most blatant efforts to target young people can be seen here. Spending on tobacco advertising is extremely high. In 1997, the industry spent about $90 million, while in the year 2000, two tobacco firms alone reportedly spent more than US$40 million.  Penang has some of the lowest rates of smoking in Malaysia.”

[4] The Framework Convention Alliance (FCA) is an alliance of non-governmental organizations from around the world who are working jointly and separately to support the development, signing, and ratification of an effective Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and related protocols.

[5]  Section in Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act 2002 prohibiting sponsorship in the UK: