/ January 14, 2008

Nigeria Takes on Big Tobacco

The Nigerian government has announced a suit against 3 major tobacco companies, claiming that they are directly and intentionally targetting Nigerian children in their cigarette ad campaigns. Now that populations in developed countries are better educated about the risks of cigarette smoking, the tobacco giants are aiming to expand their markets in the developing world. The government, suing for $44 billion U.S. dollars, claims to have thousands of e-mails and internal documents from the companies explicitly outlining plans to expand the numbers of young and underage smokers — “ YAUS” — in the country.

One method that the companies use to entice young and non-habitual smokers is to sell individual cigarettes. Some companies also sponsor concerts and fashion shows. Although most are restricted to kids 18 and older, anti-smoking activists argue that the nature of the events makes kids more likely to imitate of-age smokers.

Lawyers for the tobacco companies argue that a more dire problem is that the Nigerian government neglects the health needs of its own people. Court watchers expect the case to drag on for years. For more info from the BBC, click here.

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