Warning: Craig David could be bad for your health

Saturday 22 November 2003

ASH news release:  Embargo: 00:01 Saturday 22 November 2003
ASH is today urging all UK musicians to ensure that their tours are not used by the tobacco industry to promote cigarette to young fans.

ASH’s call comes after R&B singer Craig David went ahead with some legs of his recent STYA tour of the Far East[1] that had been sponsored by the tobacco industry. This led to an international petition[2] urging the artist to withdraw from the Penang leg of his STYA tour.

In October, concerns raised by Malaysian health campaigners had prompted ASH to write to Craig David’s agent  warning the singer of sponsorship of the event by Japan Tobacco International (JTI)[3]. ASH asked the artist to either boycott the event or ask JTI to withdraw its Salem cigarette sponsorship[4]. At the time, Craig David’s agent, Peter Nash[5],  denied any direct link with tobacco sponsorship, saying that the singer was not endorsing smoking and none of the his promotional material carried any tobacco advertising.

ASH has since discovered that not only was JTI directly involved with the Penang gig, the company was present at the event, had ‘Salem girls’ handing out promotional material to young revellers and had temporary cigarette booths put in place[6]. Furthermore, ASH has been presented with promotional material for Craig David’s tour of the Far East that is not only stamped with a cigarette brand but actually comes with a health warning[7] – in complete contradiction to Peter Nash’s earlier assertions.

Deborah Arnott director of Action on Smoking and Health said:

“It is shocking that Craig David’s management and agent chose to play second fiddle to a tobacco company. What were they thinking of? I am amazed that they chose to ignore our letters. Perhaps Mr Nash would care to explain the contradiction in what he said and what actually happened at the gig to the parents who let their kids go to see a concert, not to buy fags.

There is a serious identity crisis within the music industry. On the one hand are bands like Coldplay and people like Bono who are involved in very worthwhile causes such as Fair Trade and famine relief, and on the other you have incidents where an artist ends up promoting smoking in countries where tobacco use is a ticking public health time bomb.[8]  A multi-billion pound music industry can easily put an end to this Jekyll and Hyde image, and it is high time that it did.


Notes and links:

+ Also see earlier ASH press release (03/11/03): Penang’s Pied Piper?

[1] Slicker Than Your Average (STYA) tour www.craigdavid.co.uk

[2] List of over 350 signatories and petition letter [no longer available online]

[3] Document confirming Salem sponsorship (jpg)

[4] ASH letter to Craig David’s agent (pdf)

[5] Craig David’s agent: Peter Nash, of Helter Skelter – 020 7376 8501

[6] Malaysian Clearing House for Tobacco Control report on JTI involvement in Craig David’s Penang gig (pdf)

[7] Poster (jpg) of Craig David’s Indonesian leg of STYA tour, with cigarette brand and health warning:

[8] The WHO estimates that by 2020 10m people will die every year due to smoking – with 70 percent of these deaths occurring in developing countries. More information: www.who.int/tobacco/en/

Contact: Deborah Arnott  020 7739 5902 (w) 079 7693 5987 (m) ISDN available