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Eur J Public Health. 2006 Oct;16(5):505-8. Epub 2006 Apr 6.

Movie moguls: British American Tobacco's covert strategy to promote cigarettes in Eastern Europe.

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Tobacco Control Consultant, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1Z 1C7.



Though the cigarette companies have long publicly denied paying for product placement in films, the documentary evidence from the 1950s-1980s overwhelmingly suggests otherwise.


Approximately 800,000 pages of previously secret internal corporate British American Tobacco Company documents were reviewed at the Minnesota Tobacco Document Depository from March 2003 through May 2005. Documents were also searched online at the various tobacco document collections between February 2004 and November 2004.


A small collection of internal corporate documents from British American Tobacco show that in the late 1990s the company evaluated investing in a movie destined for Eastern Europe. By being an investor, BAT could influence the alteration of the movie script to promote BAT's brands, thus providing marketing opportunities without a clear violation of movie product placement restrictions.


Future protocols to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control should seek to curtail more than just payment for tobacco product placement. More restrictive provisions will be needed to hinder creative strategies by the tobacco industry to continue tobacco promotion and trademark diversification through movies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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