Today, young Filipina women are the target for Hope cigarettes. One recent television ad shows bikini-clad Caucasian women and attractive young men skydiving, surfing, and lighting up together; the images are intercut with shots of the brand. It's about hope - the hope young women have for Western-style affluence, fun, and popularity - and how smoking is an easy way to taste that dream.
The real focus of the battle in these countries is young, educated women, who are more likely to see cigarettes as emblems of sophistication and independence. In India, after protestors repelled one marketing campaign aimed at women, British American Tobacco returned with "Project Kestrel," the goal of which was, according to internal documents, to develop a brand that "breaks the rules" and encourages the "literate youth of today" to try a brand that is "completely unconventional, which set(s) new standards encouraging their rebellion, not necessarily just against parents."
Developing countries contemplating tobacco control - in particular, prevention of growth in smoking among women - have a troika of reasons to look the other way. First, lower sales means less tax revenue/profit, an especially important consideration for countries lacking the means to collect income or property taxes. Second, they face opposition from powerful interests, ranging from foreign governments demanding market access for their exporters, to multinational tobacco companies skilled at winning friends in high places, to local stakeholders -- everybody from workers in tobacco factories to local shop owners who anchor their businesses on cigarette sales. Third, the costs of smoking are back-loaded: Young smokers rarely worry about health issues many decades down the road, and neither do politicians focused on economic growth and political stability.
Anti-tobacco activists in poor and middle-income countries thus have their work cut out for them. And if the experience of the West is any indicator, trillions will be spent on coping with tobacco-related illness and hundreds of millions more will die before they succeed in putting tobacco in its place.