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We ban tobacco sponsorship of sport in the UK. Let’s stub it out in the arts, too

Medical professionals call for a smoke-free approach to arts sponsorship

Smoking is a leading preventable cause of ill health and premature death, and a major contributor to health inequality. Current estimates are that the tobacco industry will kill one billion people in the 21st century.

Tobacco advertising has now been banned, along with sponsorship of sport. However, tobacco companies continue to use sponsorship of some high-profile arts organisations to promote the spurious idea that they are responsible corporate citizens. We suspect that most members of the Royal Academy in London will be appalled to learn that Japan Tobacco International (JTI) has been a premier sponsor for its exhibitions. British American Tobacco is also a sponsor, a position it shares with, among others, the Marie Curie cancer charity and Bloomberg. The latter is of note given Michael Bloomberg’s passionate tobacco control stance while mayor of New York.

These sponsorship arrangements are morally unacceptable and must be brought to an end. As healthcare professionals who deal daily with the harm caused by the tobacco industry, we call on arts, cultural and heritage organisations to sign the smoke-free arts declaration ( to affirm that tobacco sponsorship is unacceptable. We also call on sponsors of the arts to undertake that they will no longer support organisations that accept tobacco sponsorship.

Dr Nicholas Hopkinson

Reader in respiratory medicine, Imperial College, London on behalf of 1,104 other healthcare professionals

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