Manila, Philippines — The seemingly “cool” and iconic cowboy and cigarette-loving man who died due to lung disease has been replaced with young people engaged in adventure sports in a new advertisement enticing the youth to engage in tobacco use.
The advertisement is part of a global marketing campaign by Philip Morris International which is aggressively promoting its Marlboro brand via a new image targeting the youth.
But since the famous ‘Marlboro man’ has joined the Creator, predictably due to lung disease, the tobacco giant has shifted to a campaign featuring young people engaged in adventure sports and other “youth-friendly” lifestyle activities complete with the message: “Don’t be a maybe. Be a Marlboro.”
Anti-tobacco campaign groups yesterday asked the government to strictly implement anti-smoking laws in the country to protect the interest of children.
In a media conference in Ortigas, Mandaluyong City, the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance revealed that the advertisement was banned in Germany because it encourages children, as young as 14, to smoke – a clear violation of Germany’s tobacco advertising law.
Similar court complaints have also been filed in Brazil, Colombia and Switzerland.
According to SEATCA senior policy adviser Dr. Mary Assunta, the Philippines and Indonesia are “cash cows” for tobacco firms where smoking prevalence remains high.
“The fact that PMI continues with the Marlboro campaign in Asia despite being found guilty in Germany only goes to show they want Asia’s children no matter what. We have to stop them and protect our children using stringent laws,” Assunta said.
The Philippines has 17 million smokers while Indonesia has 65 million smokers.
The Marlboro campaign that also features young people partying, falling in love and playing music targets the youth’s longing to belong to a group that is fueled even more by the taglines: “A maybe is never invited” so they should define themselves by choosing to “Be Marlboro.”
“We need to have a comprehensive ban on smoking… they are not permitted to target kids,” Atty. Irene Reyes, managing director of Health Justice, said.