My experience with British American Tobacco’s shameful behaviour in Ethiopia

The Great Tobacco Plague

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ViviLnk ViviLnk

In 2013, just a few months after I had arrived in Ethopia to work as a volunteer in Addis Ababa University Medical School, I noticed posters advertising British American Tobacco’s Rothmans cigarettes appearing on shop fronts in my neighbourhood in Addis Ababa. I couldn’t miss them- they shocked me because not only am I British, but also I knew that advertising cigarettes was illegal in Ethiopia. For years, when I practiced medicine in the USA, I had felt strongly about tobacco and its associated devastating health problems,  and my patients will tell you that I was passionate in advising and encouraging them to quit smoking, or not to start smoking.

Soon those Rothmans cigarette posters appeared all over Addis Ababa, decorating store fronts and standing out, with their royal blue colour, above other advertisements . Most of these posters were made of sturdy plastic and were resistant to the heavy downpours of the…

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