Claims that international tobacco companies are targeting young people in Nigeria have spurred a $43 billion government lawsuit against Phillip Morris, British American Tobacco and International Tobacco.
Activists told The Guardian that the companies are targeting teenagers with marketing strategies that have banned in other nations, using sponsored events, pop stars and product placements to glamorize smoking.
According to the World Health Organization, one in five Nigerian teenagers smoke, and the number of women smokers there rose tenfold in the 1990s.
Government lawyers cite “internal” corporate documents that identify “young and underage smokers” as a prime target — some no more than eight or nine years old.
Critics of the lawsuit say that Nigeria’s lawsuit is a cynical ploy to make money off the industry, which only recently enjoyed numerous tax breaks there.
“Nigeria takes on big tobacco”
The Guardian (U.K.), January 15, 2008