Saturday, November 25, 2006

Alcohol, tobacco industry runs into resistance in third world

Emerging markets, the last bastion of growth for purveyors of cigarettes and alcohol, are cracking down on bad habits, says the Financial Times of London. For examples, it cites the battle in Thailand over banning alcohol ads, while Indonesia is mulling higher taxes on cigarettes. A similar battle is going on in Botswana.
This is a blow for profitability as well as vice. Cigarette manufacturers have assiduously sought to sell more in less health-conscious nations. Philip Morris last year paid $5.2bn for a cigarette manufacturer in Indonesia, a populous country where about 70 per cent of young men smoke. Similarly, brewers endeavour to cash in on countries where binge-drinking is on the rise: young Thais knock back an estimated 8.5 litres of alcohol each year. Others benefit too: tobacco is a big contributor to government revenues in Indonesia, while alcohol advertising helps fill the pockets of the media industry.
Because of the industry's influence, governments may not have the clout to regulate the trade in these most lethal of addictive substances.

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