Carlow, chairman of West Indian Tobacco Company Ltd and
area director of Latin America for British American Tobacco.
While governments support legislation to ban smoking in
public places there is no proof that it actually reduces
the level of consumption, said chairman of West Indian Tobacco
Company Ltd, Francis Carlow.
Even lack of advertising by some tobacco companies has not
meant a dip in sales.
For example, Witco has stopped advertising and withdrawn
from sport sponsorship but still managed to post profits
for 2004 that exceeded the previous years.
The company recorded profits of $98 million for 2004 compared
to $88 million in 2003 and $76 million in 2002.
Does the profit indicate an increase in smokers?
At Witcos headquarters in Champs Fleurs, the Scottish
chairman explained that the company is not aggressively
marketing its product but maintained that overall demand
in the international market has been stable for the last
Carlow is also the regional marketing manager for British
American Tobacco (BAT) which owns 50.1 per cent of Witco.
Based in Guatemala, Carlow was in Trinidad for the companys
annual general meeting held at the Crowne Plaza. It was
his first meeting with shareholders.
Now area director of Latin America for the last 12 years,
he assumed the chairmanship of Witco in August last year.
He said there were new markets emerging in the eastern European
countries but did not like to project any future market
He chatted amiably, smoked a Benson & Hedges cigarette
(one of the 15 which is his daily quota) and explained about
the black eye he sported.
not going to believe me, he began, the whole
of Trinidad is not going to believe me.
It happened when he was vacationing, he said with the confidence
of someone who knows his story is unbelievably funny yet
tells it anyway.
was in at the beach on a lounge chair and this coconut fell
down and it rebounded and hit me, he laughed, No
really, that is the story.
Of course, he quickly added that no one who heard the story
actually believed him.
He pointed out that Witco has adhered to the Framework Convention
of Tobacco Control but has defined its position on public
policy to ban smoking in public places.
should not only address socio-political concerns which we
believe are currently driving the arguments relating to
these issues, he said.
At the AGM, managing director and deputy chairman Anthony
Philips added, We believe that it is possible to provide
both sensible regulatory and practical solutions that address
Carlow refined his position.
an individual who believes in freedom, choice and democracy,
I think it is extremely wrong for governments to get involved
in that degree of control of peoples lives.
kind of choices should be up to individualssmokers
and non-smokers, he stressed.
He used the example of Ireland to explain how a ban on smoking
in public, bars and restaurants has had a small impact on
overall consumption but a big impact on social activity.
Ireland there has been a significant change to socialising
at home as opposed to bars so it actually had a bigger impact
on the alcohol industry where consumption of products at
home tends to be cheaper products compared to the consumption
of products when you go out, he said.
He pointed out that supermarkets have noticed a drop in
sale on higher priced and premium products.
obviously its impacted the bar and restaurant industry because
what was popular in traditional bars no longer exists and
the only bars that exist are the ones which are opened outside
where people can actually sit and smoke, he added.
This, he said, will change smoking trends with smokers smoking
hard on a cigarette for a short period of time.
tend to smoke the cigarette hard and then you go back inside
and that frankly I dont think is a positive trend
in terms of positive impact, Carlow said.
would be better for people to enjoy their cigarette more
slowly and in a more leisurely way than to go outside and
puff very hard.
He strongly believes that the measure to ban public smoking
is extreme by any government.
While he acknowledged that people should be educated on
the risks of smoking and within reason, smokers should be
free to enjoy their product.
He said in the future the tobacco and alcohol industries
may have to join with hotels, restaurants and bars to lobby
to prevent the implications of these bans.
Bans have been passed in New York and Ireland and are being
considered by the T&T Government.
pieces of legislation can actually have a contradictory
effect if you dont think them through, he said.
example, smoking can be restrictive to bars and nightclubs
and those are by definition adult establishments. In a private
party, you dont know the age of the people. In social
activity at home, theres no control of age,
is no conclusive evidence which significantly impacts consumption.
Our interest in defending it is simply to protect the rights
if our consumers to enjoy their product in a legitimate
way in an environment which does not overly disturbed both
smokers and non-smokers, he said.