Deadly business drops “tobacco” from name in makeover

Deadly business drops “tobacco” from name in makeover

Imperial Tobacco is another tobacco company to now drop the word “tobacco” from its business name. It will be known as Imperial Brands plc. This new name sounds rather innocuous and may not strike a chord death, especially with regulators. This will make a difference in the way governments can respond to a request for a meeting from Imperials Brands Vs Imperial Tobacco.

Philip Morris was the first company in 2003 to undergo a name change in the US and became the Altria Group to protect its core tobacco business from the law suits. Philip Morris International went on to register itself in Switzerland.

In 2012, KT&G (Korean Tobacco & Ginseng Co) did a makeover and kept the KT&G abbreviation but changed the meaning to ‘Korean Tomorrow and Global’. This enabled it to continue business as usual and not be shunned by regulators serious about implementing the FCTC.

What’s in a name? Plenty, because it enables the tobacco business to gloss over the disease and death associate with its core business and rejuvenate its public image. More importantly, it enables the company to circumvent advertising, sponsorship and promotion bans. Some countries are specific in their legal definition of what constitutes a ban on advertising of tobacco. For example, if the law only bans CSR activities by a company bearing the word tobacco, then the company can easily circumvent the ban.

Our advice – Don’t be fooled by the tobacco industry!

For information on TI denormalization, check out SEATCA’s Tobacco Industry Watchwebsite

Previous ASEAN Tobacco Watch updates can be found here.