The Multinational Monitor


B E H I N D   T H E   L I N E S

Tobacco Ad Ban Fight

Tobacco multinations British American Tobacco (BAT) and Philip Morris have torpedoed some of the strongest tobacco advertising regulations yet enacted in Latin America. Drawn up by the Brazilian Minister of Health under Brazil's General Health Code, the regulations prohibited distribution of free cigarette samples, prohibited smoking in hospitals and other health-care institutions, required a black and white warning label covering 20 percent of tobacco product packaging and print advertisements and banned television commercials for tobacco products between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.

The Brazilian Cigarette Industry Association, a trade group comprised of British American Tobacco, which controls 70 percent of Brazil's cigarette market, Philip Morris, which has a 15 percent market share, and a handful of smaller companies, lobbied aggressively to weaken the regulations, according to John Bloom of the Washington-based Smoking Control Advocacy Resource Center. Through a media campaign aimed at both President Fernando Collor de Mello and the general public, the industry attempted to show that no other government's rules were as stringent and that cigarette ads do not make people start smoking. These arguments are untrue � many countries have barred print and TV commercials, including France, which will prohibit all cigarette advertising by 1993 - but the Brazilian tobacco company subsidiaries succeeded in drastically watering down the regulations anyway.

The diluted regulations return to BAT, Philip Morris and other tobacco companies the right to promote smoking on television as long as their advertisements include a four second health warning. They may also continue distributing free samples except in hospitals and schools.

There were other casualties of backroom negotiations between the Brazilian government and the multinationals. The Health Ministry's Anti-Smoking Coordinator, Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva, who took a firm stand against the tobacco companies and encouraged international participation in the regulatory debate, was removed from her position. Da Costa e Silva says, "I was removed for doing my job, but I will continue my work because it is what I love." Also fired was the anti-smoking coordinator for Northeastern Brazil, who had objected to BAT's involvement in a regional vaccine program. Health workers distributing the vaccines among residents of this indigent section of Brazil were given cars and uniforms which prominently displayed the BAT trademark.

The CIA's New Business

With the sudden cessation of cold war hostilities, the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has redefined its concept of threats to national security. Instead of concentrating on the handful of usual suspects � the U.S.S.R., Cuba, East Germany � the CIA is redefining potential aggressors to include virtually the entire industrialized world. CIA sources told two reporters for the Boston Globe that a special Agency task force on competitiveness is studying factors that would give foreign countries economic superiority over U.S. companies and its economy.

CIA Director William Webster says that the United States must be prepared to fight the war of "economic competitiveness," which he called "perhaps the single most important emerging issue for the future." He described the U.S.'s "economic capabilities and constraints, its trade and financial strategies and its technology" as fundamental to the country's security. He particularly emphasized technology, warning about other countries' "strategies for gaining a technological edge," and he advocated a role for the intelligence community in keeping the United States at the technological frontier.

Webster is not alone in pushing for a new approach to CIA spying. Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee David Boren, D-Okla., suggested last April that the United States needs more spies "equipped with economic expertise" and that when the U.S. faces increasingly important questions on topics like oil production levels and exchange rates, "we will be confronted with the policy question of how active our intelligence community should become in serving our national interests."

Dolphin Massacre

Tuna meat from countries which allow large numbers of dolphins to be killed by tuna fisherpeople has been banned in the United States. Federal District Judge Melton Henderson instituted the embargo as a result of a lawsuit by the Earth Island Institute, a San Francisco-based environmental group. Henderson ruled that Mexico, Venezuela, Panama, Ecuador and the South Pacific island Vanuatu could not export tuna to the United States until they reduce the number of dolphins killed along with the tuna.

Regulations on minimizing dolphin mortalities, included in the Marine Mammal Protection Act, have been on the books since the mid-1980's. Neither the Reagan nor Bush Department of Commerce have enforced them, claiming that the rules are too vague or unenforceable.

The regulations pertain only to fisherpeople using the purse-seine method in the Eastern Tropical Pacific region, where one-fifth of the world's tuna supply comes from. Currently, foreign boats are permitted to kill twice as many dolphins per net as U.S. fisherpeople. While environmentalists are pleased that the courts are forcing the Bush administration to enforce laws, they point to other destructive methods for catching tuna, such as the use of miles-long driftnets, which can be even more environmentally damaging.

� Jim Sugarman

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