Tobacco trade promotional events blur the line between business-to-business marketing, which is permitted in Australia, and consumer advertising, which is clearly banned in all states and territories. The guest list for a VIP party sponsored by cigarette brand Peter Stuyvesant, held in April 2009 at the State Government-owned Queens Theatre in Adelaide, included influential bar and club owners, operators and employees.1 Imperial held a similar party in 2008 at the Old Melbourne Gaol. Invitations to the event were delivered in a stainless steel box and included a free pack of Peter Stuyvesant cigarettes. Attendees of the high-security, secret event also reported receiving free cigarettes during the event.2 Online media site, The Enthusiast, describes Peter Stuyvesant as 'the unofficial cancer stick of choice among hipsters and indie types.'3 Associating the brand with the trendsetting young adults that are typically employed by bars and clubs reinforces this connection.
The lavish private party followed the Imperial sales initiative to stock Peter Stuyvesant cigarettes in chic fashion outlets in Adelaide. In December 2008, an investigation by the Sunday Mail revealed that:4
- cash incentives of up to $2000 a year were offered to stores agreeing to sell cigarettes
- smoking was promoted as safe and cool in literature given to targeted fashion outlets
- free cigarettes were handed out to stockists
- lunches and a cruise had been held for businesses which sold the brand.
The Sunday Mail article reported that the sales tactic was 'very typical in terms of the industry wanting to associate a product that kills with glamour and this high-end fashion'. Due to the resulting public and political outrage, Imperial announced a week later that it would withdraw all cigarettes from the fashion outlets by 31 January 2009.5
The tobacco industry also places advertisements about new products or changes to current products in key trade and retail publications. A double-page ad for Marlboro appeared in the March 2010 issue of Bartender magazine. Tobacco industry employees also attend and present at retailer conferences and meetings. For example, delegates at the 2010 Australian Liquor Stores Association conference heard a representative from British American Tobacco Australia, discuss 'potential opportunities for profit within the category while complying with the new display ban regulations'.6
1. Starke P. Secret smokes party for VIPs Adelaide Now, Adelaide 2009:5 Apr. Available from: http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/secret-smokes-party-for-vips/story-e6frea83-1225698284539
2. Devlin R, Vlach A and Sobolewski H. Secret cancer stick society. The Advertiser, Adelaide 2009:9 Apr.
3. Campbell M. Peter Stuyvesant's Adelaide smokeasy Media release. The Enthusiast: 5 Apr 2009 viewed April 2009. Available from: http://www.theenthusiast.com.au/archives/2009/peter-stuyvesants-adelaide-smokeasy/
4. Kelton S. Smokes alarm as fashion outlets targeted. Sunday Mail, Adelaide 2008:13 Dec. Available from: http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/smokes-alarm-as-fashion-outlets-targeted/story-e6frea83-1111118310103
5. Kelton S. Cigarette push stubbed out. Sunday Mail, Adelaide 2008:20 Dec. Available from: http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/cigarette-push-stubbed-out/story-e6frea83-1111118376380
6. Looker A. BATA lights up ALSA conference. The Shout 2010, viewed September 2010. Available from: http://www.theshout.com.au/2010/08/25/article/BATA-lights-up-ALSA-Conference-video/HODTTFQRES.html