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TBIJ’s Toxic Song And Dance

The Bureau for Investigative Journalism is creating another song and a dance, this time over British American Tobacco’s sponsorship of a music festival

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The World Health Organization (part-funded by Michael Bloomberg) is pushing an article by The Bureau for Investigative Journalism (part-funded by Michael Bloomberg), quoting people claiming to be outraged experts (part-funded by Michael Bloomberg) to push an anti-reduced harm agenda. The article, “New products, old tricks?”, laughably misses the mark.

The WHO’s version(1) of the story repeats a lot of what the writers at The Bureau for Investigative Journalism filed online(2) and sent out to newspaper editorial offices. Some of the newspapers picked it up.

The essence of their collective problem is that British American Tobacco Iberia has sponsored a band that has middle-aged members and The Starlite Festival in Marbella(3).

Dr Ruediger Krech, Director of the Department of Health Promotion at the World Health Organization, commented: “The tobacco industry is constantly introducing new tobacco and nicotine products, which are undoubtedly harmful, to attract the next generation of addicts.”

The Bureau for Investigative Journalism worry that British American Tobacco Iberia(4) is, “sponsoring music and sporting events, including an F1 e-sports tournament that was streamed live on YouTube and could be watched by children”.

The Starlite Festival says it, “is the best boutique festival in Europe. After nine editions, it is the longest-lasting festival with more than 50 days of concerts”.

Clearly targeted at children, the Festival offers more than just music: “The experience begins before the concert with its gastronomic offer in a summer terrace environment, and continues after the show with…the possibility of acquiring the complete experience by adding a dinner at the gourmet restaurant...after the show.”

Many readers will remember how they simply adored to go to gourmet restaurants as children.

Then there are the child-friendly acts at the festival which will lure in thousands of screaming young ones. The organisers have gone all-out this year to appeal to the youth:

  • Tom Jones
  • Alan Parsons Live Project
  • Lionel Ritchie
  • Simple Minds
  • Bonnie Tyler
  • Nile Rodgers and Chic

Previous teen acts that have appeared at Starlite include Enrique Iglesias, Elton John, Andrea Bocelli, Ricky Martin, Pet Shop Boys, Plácido Domingo and Sting.

It is very clear that a key part of British American Tobacco’s marketing strategy is to target teens who think and act like 50-yr olds. Teens who have up to €163+booking fees for a ticket for every act and a love of fine dining.

The tobacco company released a comment: BAT said: “All marketing activity for our products will only be directed towards adult consumers and is not designed to engage or appeal to youth. All our marketing is done responsibly, in strict accordance with our International Marketing Principles, local laws, legislation and platform policies. We only use influencers in some countries where it’s permitted, and social media platform policies allow.”

The Bureau claims: “Our reporting on tobacco is part of our Global Health project, which has a number of funders. Smoke Screen is funded by Vital Strategies. None of our funders have any influence over the Bureau’s editorial decisions or output.”

It might claim independence, but it remains striking that every hatchet piece mirrors Bloomberg objectives, contain quotes from Bloomberg sources, and are then echoed across the internet by organisations and individuals that receive at least partial funding from a network of Bloomberg bodies. That’s a very odd take on impartiality and objectivity.


  1. Concerns big tobacco is targeting youngsters -
  2. New products, old tricks? -
  3. The Starlite Festival in Marbella -
  4. British American Tobacco Iberia -
Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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