Tobacco firm criticized over promotional efforts

Staff writer, with CNA

Fri, Jul 05, 2013 - Page 5

Several civic groups yesterday called for the government to punish a local tobacco company for a series of promotional events aimed at boosting cigarette sales, saying that such actions violate the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act (菸害防制法).

The John Tung Foundation, the Consumers’ Foundation and the Homemakers United Foundation issued the appeal at a news conference after learning about a competition the unnamed company held last week that required its staff to make tobacco purchases, but allowed them to buy cigarettes at discounted prices in an effort to promote a new product.

The company also launched a campaign in which staff can collect the aluminum foil papers inside cigarette packages and exchange them for other products, the groups said. The company valued the pieces of aluminum foil paper at NT$8 each, they said.

Some of the company’s departments have also purchased its products and distributed them to employees as gifts as part of efforts to reach their sales targets.

Yau Sea-wain (姚思遠), chief executive officer of the anti-smoking John Tung Foundation, criticized the firm for offering discounted prices to its staff in an effort to increase sales.

Lin Hsin-ho (林信和), a law professor at the Chinese Culture University, said the company has violated the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act by holding the competition and offering staff discounts.

The government should name and shame the firm, Lin added.

Article 9 of the act stipulates that it is illegal to hold presentations, testing events, concerts, lectures, sports or public interest events, or other similar methods to promote or advertise tobacco products.