If you sell a product that’s not allowed to be advertised in Australia due to its harmful nature, how do you let people know that you’ve released a new brand? It seems that if you’re British American Tobacco Australia, you just ring up the Daily Telegraph, give them a few quotes and they’ll run it uncontested on page three.

According to BATA they are being forced to release a new low cost brand into the market to compete with “illegal counterfeit and contraband cigarette packs”.

“(Smokers) have been down trading to cheaper products or illegal cigarettes, so we’ve been forced to compete.

“If the government keeps giving us ad hoc excise increases, all they’ll do is make the problem worse.

“They’re trying to reduce smoking rates through excise but instead, it’s making people opt for cheaper or illegal options.”

At this point I’m sure that the Tele’s intrepid reporter would let us know whether illegal tobacco, or ‘chop chop’, is as big a problem as the spokesman from BATA would have is believe. Or, not.British American Tobacco Australia’s assertions are left completely unchallenged. Is there an increase in the consumption of illegal tobacco in Australia? Who knows? Did the reporter ask Customs, or the AFP, or even the Tax Office? If she did she certainly didn’t share that information with her readers. We’re left to take the word of a tobacco industry spokesman, historically not the most reliable of sources for information.

I’m sure that BATA would be happy with the article though, they got to let consumers know the name and price of their new brand, and align it with their existing higher profile brands all by the second sentence. Meanwhile, the Daily Tele looks credulous at best for giving the tobacco industry a free kick.

Quit now.

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