Australian tobacco rules hinder compettion says BAT

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SYDNEY -- Australia is one of the "most hostile" markets in the world for tobacco companies, says Ulrich Herter, chief executive of BAT Industries Ltd, the world's largest and most powerful tobacco multinational. All tobacco advertising is banned in Australia, except at point of sale and at the yearly international Formula One motor races.

"Australia is hindering competition," said Herter in a rare interview with Conrad Black's national Financial Review. "If you cannot talk about your brand, how can you communicate with the consumer? In Europe the attitude is far more liberal."

Herter said BAT "takes decisions from governments as they come" but would not "pander to the settlements offered by hungry lawyers". In the U.S., where the industry is besieged with lawsuits, he was adamant that the companies would not settle. "We have a rather good track record as far as our litigation is concerned...that Florida case we lost last August, we have filed an appeal and are convinced we will prevail."

Copyright November 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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