Who needs who more in the Philippines?

BAT Philippines and Imperial Tobacco Group have selected Gawad Kalinga (GK) to channel their CSR activities as it is a high profile community organisation of international repute. Both BAT and Imperial are into building houses for the poor since this activity will go a long way in a country with many impoverished communities and pounded by natural disasters.

To obtain visibility for its so-called charitable handouts, BAT received publicity in the Manila Times where its General Manager was quoted on how his company was making a “difference in people’s lives”. BAT milked it for all it is worth – on its facebook, twitter, on its website, about helping the poor.

A reader responded appropriately: “BAT is not only about money, it’s also about killing its consumers for profit. It has little regard for humanity or social responsibility.” Another reader wrote: “Making, promoting, and selling products that cause lifelong addiction, debilitating diseases, catastrophic disabilities, and premature deaths are also activities that “make a huge difference in people’s lives”. Want to be genuinely socially responsible? Close your tobacco company. Otherwise, you’re comparable to the Mafia that kills people but donates to charity.”

Although Imperial Tobacco’s brands are not well known in the Philippines, it has a manufacturing factory (Philippines Bobbin Corp) and buys its public goodwill through GK by providing “accommodation for the homeless”. 
Truth be told, GK’s good works, integrity and international profile, enables it to raise funds from a variety of donors, both private and governments to help the poor – it does not really need the pitiful, miniscule handouts from the tobacco companies. The tobacco industry on the other hand gains phenomenal endorsement by associating itself with GK. GK should dissociate itself from tobacco money.


Imperial Tobacco: More profits from cheap cigarettes in developing countries

Imperial Tobacco has identified Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam in Asia as countries that have the potential to deliver high proportion of profits because of affordability of cigarettes. In these three countries a pack of cigarettes cost less than 60 minutes of labour (attached). Imperial reported this in its forecast at a recent Morgan Stanley Consumer Conference.

In Imperial’s current plans, it has tagged Cambodia and Vietnam as ‘Growth Markets’, characterised by large profit with market share below 15% but sees a real potential for increasing share and profit growth. Imperial is currently No.4 tobacco transnational corporation and is competing aggressively with the other top three companies to sell more cigarettes in developing countries. The best counter action is to enact stringent tobacco control measures according to the WHO FCTC Guidelines and be brave to go beyond to protect public health.