Cancer Research UK is today expressing dismay at the news that the European Parliament is hosting a British American Tobacco (BAT) lobbying event on corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Jean King, Cancer Research UK’s director of tobacco control, says: “There is a mountain of evidence that tobacco companies cannot be trusted to deliver on their promises of social responsibility.
BAT is currently engaging in a global re-branding exercise to help improve its image and appear more ‘responsible’. For example, it is promoting its support of youth smoking prevention campaigns and the elimination of child labour. But [review of] BAT’s own documents suggest that the company continues to oppose effective controls on tobacco use and to recruit new young smokers across the globe.
“We are deeply dismayed to learn that the European Parliament is hosting BAT’s meeting on Corporate Social Responsibility.”
The meeting is being held in Brussels on Wednesday, January 10th and is labelled as a ‘stakeholder dialogue’ part of BAT’s ‘2006 social reporting process’.
Cancer Research UK is gravely concerned by the way tobacco companies seem to be attempting to influence governments.
Politicians may occasionally need to talk to tobacco companies but the charity believes that it is completely inappropriate for them to discuss issues of corporate social responsibility.
For media enquiries contact the press office on 020 7061 8300 or, out of hours, the duty press officer on 07050 264 059.
A thorough critique of the inappropriateness of BAT’s participation in the corporate responsibility movement can also be found here.
BAT is one of the world’s largest transnational tobacco companies, holding a 15.4% brand share of the international cigarette market. The World Health Organisation (WHO) puts the current global annual death toll from tobacco at 4.9 million. In other words, approximately three-quarters of a million deaths per year may be attributable to BAT’s products.