In the first part, I will discuss tobacco promotions in Sri Lanka aimed to encourage new smokers including women and girls.In the second half, I will show you current tobacco control efforts of an NGO called LIFE whose goal is to maintain Sri Lanka's low female smoking rate. Of the women who smoke, there are two types: the old, who often smoke for perceived medicinal purposes, thinking that suruttu (cigars) prevent toothaches, and the trendy, high-income Western-oriented urban young girls and women.
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I attended one of the discos sponsored by Benson & Hedges and attempted to videotape the event but was kicked out by "bouncers" who stated that this was a private, sponsored event: "no photographers allowed".
Each of these brands are promoted by the tobacco monopoly CTC, which saturates the visual environment with various advertising and promotional materials to encourage new smokers.
These include sponsorships of sporting events, music groups, night clubs and discos, in addition to using contests, prizes and free cigarette giveaways as incentives to lure new smokers.
Facing an intensifying anti-tobacco climate within the United States and Europe, British American Tobacco (BAT), like other multinational tobacco corporations, has shifted its focus to the vast markets of developing countries.
My presentation will highlight the small island nation of Sri Lanka, where BAT's subsidiary, Ceylon Tobacco Company (CTC) uses lavish advertising campaigns to target the country's most vulnerable groups, preying especially on the young, untapped female population.
Smoking in Sri Lanka Sri Lanka has the second lowest female smoking rate in the world at one percent. The tobacco companies in Sri Lanka are working hard to foster a smoking lifestyle among the 99 percent of girls and women who do not smoke.
Among Sri Lankan men, 55 percent smoke an average of eight cigarettes per day.
In addition to the numerous bidis there are three prominent brands of cigarettes: Bristol, the most popular brand, Gold Leaf, the premium brand, and Benson & Hedges, the elite up-market brand.
Gold Leaf and Benson & Hedges are marketed to women.