• Cigarette butts or filters are the most common form of litter in westernised countries. It is estimated 4.5 trillion end up as litter on our streets not including discarded packs and their cellophane wrappers.

    Smoked it bin it

    Keep your butt of the street.

    Cigarette filters are not biodegradable as cellulose acetate, a form of plastic is one of the components that make up the butt and never breaks down. A high number of these filters which contain hundreds of harmful chemicals are swept into the water system were the poisons leak out. Carelessly discarded cigarette butts are also the main cause of house and forest fires the world over. We only have to look at the huge forest fires outside Los Angeles in May 2007 to show the needless destruction of natural parkland around the famous Hollywood sign due to a single discarded cigarette butt.

    Fish, birds, animals and even children have been known to eat these filters inadvertently causing blocked digestive and excretory systems, poisoning and even death, all are which are preventable if the filters were deposited responsibly in ashtrays by the smoker, instead of discarded on the ground.

    The tobacco industry could also implement steps to minimise the effects of discarded filters on the environment from printing ‘Do not litter’ slogans on packs or even on the cigarette itself. This can be done in words or pictures as on most confectionary items.

    The tobacco industry could also invest some of their huge cash profits into a program of supplying ‘personal ashtrays’ with every pack of cigarettes or sell them as they do lighters or even build into the design of a lighter a holder for cigarette filters.

    Unfortunately the tobacco industry seems to think the best course of action is to maintain a low profile while working to exempt cigarettes from coverage of pending litter control legislation. It believes the courtesy should be limited to the smoking of, rather than the disposal of tobacco products and by backing any fees or taxes to help clean up cigarette litter, they would be buying into the social cost argument against smoking.

    cigarette street litter

    Although a ‘no-litter’ campaign might be useful to tobacco companies, they would never be implemented before comprehensive cost/benefit analysis had taken place. It is obvious the tobacco industry cares little for the environment against their bottom line. However, governments and public opinion could open the eyes of these corporations and hit them were it hurts if anti- littering laws were upheld and the tobacco industry were to foot the bill for cleaning up our streets and water supply.


    The medical and scientific evidence of tobacco smoking is widely known as a major cause of cancer and premature death. However what is not publicized is the effect the tobacco industry has on the earth’s protective ozone layer.

    In the farming of tobacco, Methyl Bromide is used to fumigate soil. This gas is odourless, highly toxic and kills all living organisms. Over 5.5 million pounds of the substance is applied annually to tobacco crops. The US Environmental Protection Agency classifies it as one of the most lethal of acutely toxic pesticides. Those who come into contact with it can suffer poisoning, neurological damage and reproductive harm.  It also destroys the ozone layer. The depletion of the ozone layer leads to more global warning, increased skin cancer and eye cataracts from UV-B radiation. Couple this with the amount of chemical laden smoke released daily into the air and forest fires caused by carelessly deposited cigarette filters and vicious cycle starts to appear.

    Over 450 pesticide products are registered in the USA alone for the use on tobacco crops. Approximately 90% of American-style tobacco is now grown by farmers in 78 countries outside of the USA and the US are now the largest importer of tobacco. This has had a huge effect on small farming, family communities throughout the US. The majority of these small farms have long gone after being sold to large companies. Some 500,000 existed in the 1950’s, today around 85,000 struggle for survival. The tobacco companies blame the reduction of domestic tobacco demands on the decline of cigarette sales. However this 4-5% reduction does not compare to the 35% reduction in purchasing home grown tobacco.

    Developing countries now produce the majority of American style tobacco. The crops are grown on small independent farms, under strict contracts with the corporations, which provide all inputs through a carefully controlled system of loans and credits. The tobacco companies provide credit for the farmers to build drying sheds to cure the tobacco leaf after harvest. This debt can take many years to repay and during this period farmers are also buying seeds, fertilizers and pesticides from the company increasing the debt burden.

    Farmers are paid for the crop according to the quality of the harvest. In years of drought and other extreme weather conditions that seem to be more prevalent every year, crops can be destroyed forcing the farmers into selling the farm to pay back debts to the corporation and moving to the cities and favelas.

    Ironically the amount of land currently used to grow tobacco worldwide could instead be used to feed 10 to 20 million people. When good farmland is diverted to grow tobacco crops, governments may find themselves facing local food shortages and bearing the additional cost of importing food.

    To ensure the continues high profit margins tobacco companies ruthlessly pursue, millions of pounds of toxic chemicals are used on millions of acres of land worldwide, land that could be or was once used to grow food. The global epidemic of the tobacco industry not only endangers smokers, it also threatens tobacco farmers and their families, pollutes the air we breathe, destroys insects and micro organisms at the bottom of the food chain, depletes the ozone layer that protects us, contaminates soil and poisons the water supply. We all should question the sustainability and sanity of the tobacco industry.

    Click here For more information about cigarette litter and the environment.

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  • Before exploring health issues synonymous with tobacco smoking, it is useful to look back and define what is a cigarette? 

    A cigarette is a Nicotine Delivery System, a highly refined and carefully engineered product. Cigarettes are designed pacifically to deliver naturally occurring alkaloids like nicotine fast and efficiently to the body avoiding or masking them from the bodies natural defence mechanisms.

    Nicotine is the cause of addiction but cigarettes are laced with up to 600 compounds commonly referred to as additives or flavourings, which mask the serious effects some of these compounds have on the body.

    These ingredients are approved additives in food, however, were not tested by burning them. It is the burning of these substances that changes their properties. When burnt 4000 chemical compounds are made and these do most of the damage to the body, as many of them are toxic and/or carcinogenic. These include over 40 know carcinogenic including Hydrogen cyanide, Carbon Monoxide and Nitrogen Oxides.

    If a person takes on average 10 hits from a cigarette and smokes between 20 and 30 cigarettes a day they are sending 1mg of nicotine to the brain. That’s 300 hits of cancer causing agents per day while the nicotine addiction leaves you craving for yet another hit.

    To increase the amount of nicotine to the body household cleaners like ammonia are added to tobacco. Up to 40% more nicotine can be delivered faster to the smoker by using ammonia in the manufacture of cigarettes.

    Levulinic acids are added to cigarettes to mask the harsh taste of nicotine. These acids also bind nicotine to the brains receptors and increase the kick felt by the nicotine. The more nicotine that is bound on the receptors the bigger the kick the smoker experiences.

    Glycyrrhizin, liquorice and cocoa are compounds added to cigarettes to make the act of smoking a more enjoyable experience by masking the bitter taste of the nicotine. They are also added because in fact these compounds are bronchodilators, that is they dilate or open up the lungs membranes which allow more nicotine to enter the body.

     what is a cigarette

    Other common additives found in the manufacture of cigarettes are Arsenic (Rat Poison), Formaldehyde (Body Preservative), Acetone (Nail Polish Remover) Hexamine (BBQ Lighter), Cadmium (Rechargeable Batteries), Toluene (Industrial Solvent), DDT (Insecticide), Methanol (Rocket Fuel) and Lead (Petrol Fumes).

    In 1995 Philip Morris recalled 8 billion cigarettes after traces of the chemical methyl isothiocyanate (Pesticide) were found in its filters. Internal documents from the Liggett Group revealed arsenic, DDT and taxophene were found in their products. Tobacco is now grown in developing countries were high, often unregulated use of pesticides are used. In the three months from seedbed to transplanting Kenyan farmers are recommended there should be 16 separate applications of pesticides on their crops.

    1000 people give up smoking everyday – they die! View images of the Silent Killer.

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  • The major tobacco industry players are…

    Philip Morris Ltd. Owned by Altria Inc.

    Brands include – Marlboro, Raffles, Basic and Philip Morris.

    1) The company manufactures, markets sells/distributes in more than 160 countries.

    2) Produces 7 of the top 20 best selling global cigarette brands.

    3) Collectively accounts for 18% of the global cigarette market.

    4) Marlboro is one of only 2 brands with global sales exceeding $15bn per annum

    The Marlboro Man advertising campaign by the Leo Burnett Agency is widely acknowledged as one of the all time most successful advertising campaigns. Ads  depicted nothing much to do with cigarettes (i.e. paper rolled around dried leaves), but propelled the brand to the forefront of premium cigarettes market. 

    British American Tobacco / Rothmans

    Brands include – Lucky Strike, Dunhill, Rothmans and Royals

    1) The company operates in more than 150 countries.

     Reynolds American Inc.

    Brand include – Winston Salem


    Brands include – Benson & Hedges, Silk Cut, Berkeley, Sovereign, Dorchester and Mayfair.

    Imperial Tobacco

    Brands include – Embassy, Regal, Superkings, Lambert & Butler and Richmond.

    Tobacco companies such as BAT and Philip Morris both run Youth Smoking prevention programs as part of their corporate social agenda. The ‘you don’t have to smoke to be cool’ advert was shown on MTV Europe, minimum age notices are placed in points of purchase and the brand logo is not sold on caps and t-shirt.

    Smoke Free Kids

    However these initiatives are dwarfed by corporate sponsorship, marketing and point of sale activity of rock concerts, Formula 1 and other motor sports. These events are attended predominately by young people whose perception of rock stars or the motor racing champion is one of cool and glamorous, who lives an inspirational lifestyle all young people can only dream off.

    The reality of driving for most people is one of congestion, frustration and pollution. Cars have always been sold on an image of open roads, hassle free driving and freedom to travel. These associations have always been the Marlboro Mans identity. Sponsoring motor-sport has taken the campaign yet another step forward from the days of the cowboy.

    Rock ‘n’ Roll stars have always been aligned with rebellion, free wheeling, on the edge and everything the previous generation despises. Again these are all qualities young people identify with and want to be a part off. These qualities are coincidentally the same as the Marlboro Man myth.

    The reality the original Marlboro Men, Wayne McLaren, is that he succumbed to lung cancer and died at the age of 51. McLaren’s brother provided a voiceover over a withered image of Wayne in a hospital bed prior to his death asking the question ‘Lying there with all those tubes in you, how independent can you really be?

    Cigarette girls are used extensively to reinforce the brand in bars clubs, high profile events, parties, film premiers, fashion shows, concerts, festivals and restaurants. Although giving away free product to customers is no longer prohibited selling them at a great reduction isn’t. There is also the perceived association of beautiful models and cigarettes, the image of glamour is aspirational and being at all the right places. It sends out a message that if you smoke you can be ‘hot like me’. Again associating cigarettes to sexy, young and glamorous women enforces the image the brands try to portray. It is the wrong message to send out when about one fifth of 15 year olds are regular smokers, with the number of girls lighting up outnumbering boys. Most of the girls I knew who promoted cigarettes in bars don’t actually smoke.

    The image of smoking in the all media is still perceived as cool. From 50’s stars such as James Dean (Rebel Without a Cause), to Michael Caine (Get Carter) right through to today’s blockbusters starring Brad Pitt (Fight Club) and John Travolta (Swordfish). These stars are immortalized in film images that are so strong the picture could be still endorsing cigarettes as a ‘cool thing’ 50 or 100 years from now in cinemas and in your home on DVD.

    Bogey smoking

        Smoking celebrities

    John Wayne Marlboro Man

    Dirk Bogart           Celebrities           John Wayne

    Throughout the 90’s the TV and film franchise ‘The X Files’ contained a character played by the non-smoking actor – William B Davis called ‘Cancer Man.’ The Fox TV publicity department were more PC and referred to the character as ‘Cigarette Smoking Man.’

    For film directors today to reinforce the image of smoking as a cool character trait is morally irresponsible, lazy and shows a great lack of imagination.

     Smoking Pete Docherty

    Kate Moss smokes

    Jonny vegas Smokes

    jodie Marsh smoking

    Certain celebrities revel in their ability to smoke cigarettes like it’s a badge of honor. The problem is in these days when celebrity is celebrated and impressionable young people readily buy into it, promoting smoking is not only irresponsible but stupid. Not all the blame can be laid at the door of this or that celerity. The media should be more careful of what photographs and images they choose to reproduce.

    Brad Pitt smokes the-first-wives-club smoking

    indy-car- sponsored by Marlboro

    holy-smokes Madonna

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  • Killing your customers is not generally considered a good business practise, but tobacco companies seem to excel in this field. 

    Associated health problems attributed to the smoking of cigarettes prior to the 1930’s were unknown. ‘Doctor Recommended’ and ‘Good for Digestion’ advertisements were common in the 1920’s. Then in 1932 a paper published by the American Journal of Cancer made the connection between cigarettes and cancer. 

    Many more papers were subsequently released, solidifying the health issues from cigarettes. By 1957 the Surgeon General (USA) became involved with the issues and by 1964 he had filed an official report connecting cigarettes to cancer.

    In the early 70’s a Smoking Act was passed by the US Congress, TV bans and warning labels were brought into effect. Within the space of four decades the image of cigarettes had changed. Smokers (the minority) still believe it’s their right to smoke, not the non-smokers (the majority) right to breathe clean air. On 1st July 2001 smoking will be banned in all public places in the UK following successful bans already in place in Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

    Way back in 1973 warning labels were introduced and the first ban on smoking in a public place was introduced in Arizona. California, New York State and Ireland followed suit years later. Other countries throughout the European Union are now lining up to back a ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces

    In 1984 warning labels were changed on the packet of cigarettes. Meanwhile in Canada, Brazil, Singapore and Thailand packs already contained graphic coloured images with additional health warnings. Ireland and Belgium have indicated that they will introduce some of the 42 images approved by the EU in the near future. 

                                                       Leo Bennett      Leo Burnett     

                 marlboro the original cigarette

                             ’Original’ Marlboro                       

    Philip Morris used the Leo Burnett Company in 1955 to develop a ‘minor cigarette brand with a predominately feminine image and turned it in to a big seller by using close-up photos of ruggedly handsome men’, The ‘Marlboro Man’ arguably the most successful marketing campaign ever, took the idea of smoking and linked it with the image of rebellion, freedom and personal choice. Thus, any attacks made on smokers or smoking becomes an issue of losing that freedom or the government interfering in the personal choices of the people. This changed somewhat in 1993 when passive smoking or second hand smoke was recognised as a cause of cancer. The issues of freedom to smoke and personal choice changed to one of injuring others.

                Smoking Marlboro Man

          Marlboro Man circa 1955     

    Smoking Marlboro Cowboy

          Marlboro cowboy circa 1956     

    Smoking Marlboro Cowboy 1973

    Smoking Marlboro Country

    Marlboro Country circa 1973

       Ronald Reagan in Cigarette Ad

     marlboro smoking cowboy

    marlboro rodeo

    Marlboro menthol cigarette ad

    The tobacco companies answered by employing marketing strategies for a healthier cigarette, this started in 1952 with the introduction of filters. 1.3% of cigarette sales had filters in this year but by 1956 over 25% had filters. Now almost all cigarettes sold are filtered. The next step in the elusive search for the healthy cigarette occurred in the 70’s with the introduction of the ‘Tar Wars’. Arguable the most famous brand created was ‘Marlboro Lights.’ The words Light and Medium were outlawed in 2002 in the UK. Cigarette tar and nicotine yields are measured by machines that smoke but bear little relation to the way humans smoke cigarettes. However it is widely perceived that a Light alternative is safer but there is no evidence to support this.

    The continuation of marketing ‘Marlboro Man’ and ‘Marlboro Country’ saw the emphasis shift from the product to one were a cigarette or pack of cigarettes had completely disappeared from the advertisements and now the focus was on satisfaction and taste. The whole appeal of the product is one of rebellion and freedom. Marlboro ads no longer sell a product but sell an image.

    As the Western worlds taste for cigarettes diminishes with the knowledge of cancer and the new legislation against tobacco smoking in public places and raising the age to buy from 16 to 18, the tobacco companies shift their emphasis to new and emerging markets in developing countries. Not unlike other corporations who set up sweat shops in Free Trade Zones throughout the developing world, the tobacco companies are also taking advantage of cheap labour and land and take with them a whole new set of health, environmental and social problems. Although cigarette sales in the western world have diminished the tobacco companies report bigger profits year on year, but at what cost to public health and the environment?

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    What happens to an individual physically and socially when, as a life long, healthy living non-smoker, he starts to smoke cigarettes?

    What happens to an individual physically and physiologically when having smoked 10 cigarettes a day since her early teens she decides to give up unsupported?

    Smoke Swap follows producer/director Perry (non-smoker) and presenter Katie (smoker) as they embark on this social experiment in the run up to the ban on smoking in public places on 1st July 2007.

    Under the watchful eye of Dr. Mace, Perry and Katie will be monitored for the positive and the negatives effects of their actions. He will chart the changes in the cotimine levels, carbon monoxide levels, skin, respiratory system – oxygen carrying capacity, sperm and general health over a two week period. (It would be great if we could find a computer wizz to age both people according to their smoking preference).

    Not only will we see the crossroads of health changes of the two individuals over the outlined time but we will also see what happens to the couple during their social time. How they deal with their cravings and addictions. We observe how the new social surroundings effect their habits i.e. Smirting, cravings and irritability levels.

    Katie will give up smoking unsupported (cold turkey) but we will look into alternative methods, NRT’s, hypnosis and will power. Will she put weight on? After the elapsed time frame will she revert back to smoking?

    Katie Smoke Swap

    How will Perry approach the first cigarette? Will his body reject the poison? Katie will school him on how to light up, inhale and hold a cigarette. Will he become addicted? Will he be able to get off them when it’s finished and if so how? Perry will also buy a jar and keep all his smoked butts in.

    Perry Stevens Smoke Swap

    What conflict between Perry and Katie will arise during the course of the experiment

    Smoke Swap will have the answers and will; I’m sure, throw up many more questions.

    **Hypnotherapy could be used on Perry to implant a trigger so at the end of the experiment his identity as a non-smoker will return.

    The Smoking Man – Perry

    The Abstainer – Katie

    Professional – Dr. Peter Mace / Dr. Sunny Kaul / Dr. Ranak

    Therapist – Lee Bannister IGPP ITEC Dhyp NLPprac

    Respiratory Physiologist – ??????

    Camera – Lorna-Jane Hamer / Sam Harvey

    Editor – Stephen Wilson

    IMP Film Co. London Production Company

    © IMP Film Co. All rights reserved 2007

    >> Quit Smoking Now! <<

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  • January 2007 Perry

    Invited over to Mumbai International Film Festival India to promote King of Kommunication, a short film I made the summer before. While there I looked into the marketing and advertising of cigarettes.

     Cigarettes in a Mumbai Chemist

     Cigarettes on sale in a Chemists – Mumbai India 2007

    cigarette advertising in India

    Cigarette advertising in Mumbai 

     Advertisement above the Chemist door – Mumbai India 2007

     Roadside cigarette vendor Mumbia

     In a roadside kiosk cigarettes are sold alongside soda and sweets – Mumbai India 2007

     cigarettes indiaMarlboro cigarette advertisment Mumbai

    Marlboro and Four Square cigarette advertisement above a roadside kiosk – Mumbai India 2007

    Indian cigarette displaycigarette bar display

    Typical bar display cabinets of cigarettes – Mumbai India 2007

     cigarette menu Mumbai

      20 B&H cost less than £1.50 UKP in a bar – Mumbai India 2007

    Having heard horror stories about wild-west attitudes to marketing cigarettes in India it was reassuring to see the Indian government had stringent laws and restrictions in place against this. Although you can smoke in bars and restaurants (only inconsiderate bastards smoke in restaurants but there are still people out there arrogant enough to do so – Wankers!) advertising is largely restricted to point of sale.

    Anti smoking advertisements were also played before movies in all cinemas. The audience seemed to enjoy King of Kommunication. Well they laughed in all the right places!


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  • Saturday 23 April 2005 Perry

    This is the third day is Barcelona shooting for Vodafone. Had plenty of time to visit Gaudi Cathedral and the sites of this amazing city.Smoking in Spain

    After shooting in the Gothic Quarter today we stumbled upon a small bar were a band of musicians jammed away playing Jazz with some crazy Balearic beats. After dinner around midnight we went to a club. A new brand to me was promoting their cigarettes, BlueNYC.

    Five cigarette girls greeted us at the door. There were dancers, photographers, pack give a ways, competitions and loads of POS everywhere. A cameraman was filming the night. I couldn’t believe they could still do this in Europe. We left this club around 3am and went across the road to ‘The Catwalk’. The Spanish do seem to like to smoke a lot.

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  • Tuesday 22 March 2005 Perry

    Day two back at PM HQ. Boring SMS training today, I definitely can’t take any more of this. The team has been informed we will be selling Special Edition stock directly to On-Trade customers from now on. Everyone left early and NJ wasn’t in today so at the end of play I approached LR. She said she was to busy when I requested a meeting but agreed to talk on the way to the car park. So I told her in the car park I was quitting, I was pro smoking bans and do not want to sell cigarettes.

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  • Sunday 13 March 2005 Perry

    I went out early with a camera before the street cleaners had been round cleaning up the (cigarette) litter left from Saturday night. In Soho it’s a twenty-four hour operation. We could save a fortune on Council tax bills if everyone put their rubbish in a litterbin or took it home with them. I headed to Hackney and shot loads of shit.

    cigarette butts, packs and litter

    (Some people lie in the gutter and look up at the stars; I grovel around the gutter with a camera in the name of art)

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  • August 2004 Perry

    I’ve been writing a feature and some shorts and looking for funding for sometime but after watching Michael Moore Fahrenheit 9/11 I have decided to get my teeth into something that could make a difference.

    I liked Fahrenheit 9/11 but didn’t think it came anywhere near the brilliance of Bowling for Columbine. That film really blew me away. I’ve been looking for subject matter for a while from Toxic Shock Syndrome to Mothers Against Guns, worthy subjects but mostly alien to me. Then it struck me like a bolt out of the blue, smoking or more precisely tobacco!

    I’ve been working in and around the industry since 2001 even though I don’t smoke. But what angle to go on? Everybody knows smoking kills. What if I smoke 40 cigarettes a day for a month and see how it affects my general health from the condition of my skin, sperm count, ability to exercise etc. I discarded that idea for several reasons, the first being the release of ‘Super Size Me’ and the comparisons it would have levelled against it and secondly I really don’t think I could smoke a cigarette every twenty or so minutes or my waking day. (I’d really struggle with one).

    I have decided to investigate the tobacco industry. I think this is a broader subject with worldwide appeal and consequences. Maybe it will have a positive effect and redeem me in some small way from the guilt I feel working for the industry that brings suffering and death to millions of people across the planet.

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