British American Tobacco AGM Protest 2013
On April 25th, I took to the streets of London with REframe - an organisation in Kent run by, and for, young people with one main goal: to fight back against the big tobacco companies.
Our main objective for the day was to protest outside of British American Tobacco’s headquarters in London on the day of their AGM, or Annual General Meeting. The focus of our protest was simple: introduce plain cigarette packaging.
More than 200,000 11-15 year olds take up smoking every year in the UK - with almost 600 children trying a cigarette for the first time, every single day. The aim of introducing plain cigarette packing is not to try and persuade current smokers to quit, as we all know smoking is bad for your health - the aim is to try and prevent younger generations from trying smoking for the first time, and letting them know that they are the targets of big tobacco companies such as BAT.
The main theory behind the argument is that young children and teenagers are tempted and drawn into smoking by the brightly coloured, glamorous looking packets with memorable and easily recognisable branding. By replacing the attractive packaging with a plain box and more noticeable health warnings, young people should hopefully be deterred from beginning smoking, after all - most smokers stick with a certain brand of cigarette from childhood.
Here is an example of how plain cigarette packaging would look.
The day was not a lone effort - over 70 young people from all over the UK joined together to have their voices heard in the fight against the big tobacco industry. Along side us in REframe, other campaigners included The Filter from Wales, Kick Ash from Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire, and Cut Films. We spent a good four hours or so protesting outside BAT with chants, banners and picket signs - one of which, I found was particularly poignant, but incredibly effective in getting the point across.
Later on, we were invited inside the House of Lords to discuss plain packaging legislation with MPs.
Our demand was a push for plain packaging in the changes to legislation following the Queen’s speech - David Cameron initially backed the plan, but was persuaded that it would “damage the growth of the packaging industry”.
So unfortunately, the legislation was scrapped as people in power care more about lining their pockets than the health of young people, or even our country as a whole. But the fight isn’t over. Hundreds of thousands of people back the plain packaging campaign. Let’s do this not only for our own sakes, but for our children and future generations.
Children should be able to grow up smoke free, without being targeted by big tobacco companies.
Want to know more? Find out more about REframe and get involved by clicking here.
You lot are actually hilarious. You get brainwashed by antismoking “charities” who receive billions of pounds a year from pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer who want people to smoke less so they can push their useless nicotine patches/gum/dangerous anti-smoking pills on people.
Young people of decades past went protesting against the system and against authority - women’s rights, the civil rights movement etc.
And you lot… all expenses paid trip to London on a school day, chaperoned by adults in a position of power in order to protest what they say you should protest. For unpleasant looking packaging on cigarettes that will do nothing but fuel counterfeiting and mean more funding for the adults who tricked you into going.