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BAT's Broughton says U.S. tobacco pact will not cut teenage smoking

LONDON (AFX) - Martin Broughton, chief executive of BAT Industries, said the U.S. compensation deal agreed last week by the major tobacco companies will not meet one of its main objectives, of achieving huge cuts in teenage smoking, the Financial Times reported.

The targets for reductions in under-age smoking are "unrealistic", Broughton said.

"My expectation is that we will fail to meet them," he said.

The newspaper said Broughton's comments could severely damage the chances of U.S. President Bill Clinton and Congress approving the pact, because they reinforce the belief among anti-smoking groups that the settlement will benefit tobacco companies more than society.If the pact is approved, the industry would accept tough government regulation of cigarettes and, over 25 years, pay 368.5 bln usd in damages for the health effects of smoking.In exchange, dozens of U.S. states would drop their lawsuits against the industry.

Broughton said the tobacco companies only agreed to have the under-age smoking targets written into the agreement because their opponents had insisted that a deal could not be done without them.

"You must remember that this whole deal is not something we agree with," he said. "We don't support a lot of things that are in this package. But it is a package we are prepared to support overall in order to get a deal."

Broughton said the targets of reducing under-age smoking by 30 pct in five years and 60 pct in 10 years are based on the "totally false premise" that youngsters only smoke because cigarette companies advertise to them and make their products freely available to them.

"It makes a ridiculous assumption that it is nothing to do with societal factors or peer pressure or parental pressure," he said. "All these things are swept under the carpet."


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