Martin Southgate

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Martin Southgate was the managing director of Japan Tobacco International (JTI) UK between January 2011 and February 2013.[1][2] Jorge da Motta succeeded Southgate as Managing Director of JTI UK.[2] Previously, between 1975 and 1999 Southgate worked for Rothman’s until Rothman’s was bought by British American Tobacco. In 2001, he joined JTI and held positions in Switzerland, Romania and Ireland before taking on the role of JTI managing director in the UK.

In 2007, JTI acquired Gallaher for £9.4 billion to create JTI in the UK. The trading name of JTI UK is Gallaher Limited. In 2011, JTI owned 37.1% of the market share of tobacco sales in the UK, second only to Imperial Tobacco with 43.8%.[3]

Plain Packaging

Southgate was very vocal about his opposition to plain packaging. In an interview published in the 11 August 2012 edition of the retail magazine, ‘’The Grocer’’, he stated:

“Plain Packaging is commercial vandalism…We have a right to develop and market products. The proposals unjustifiably strip a legitimate industry of its ability to compete for market share amongst adults who choose to smoke brands that are manufactured and distributed in a highly regulated environment.”
Plain packaging would “dupe smokers into buying unregulated fakes…It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to copy a plain pack.”

Under Southgate’s leadership, and in response to the plain packaging consultation in the UK which ran between 16 April and 10 August 2012, JTI launched a campaign “to raise awareness of the potential impact and consequences of plain packaging proposals.” [4] The campaign was run in two waves, one in July 2012, and another in September 2012 and included adverts in the national newspapers, in print and online. The ads appeared in ‘’The Financial Times’’, ‘’The Guardian’’, ‘’The Independent’’, ‘’The Times’’ and ‘’The Evening Standard’’. The first wave was due to coincide with the end of the consultation (due to end on 10 July but extended to 10 August) and the second wave was deliberately timed to “coincide with the party political conference season” in order to reach an unprecedented number of MPs and opinion formers. [5] This can be seen as an example of Corporate Political Advertising and/or Lobbying Decision Makers.

The first wave of JTI advertising suggested that there was no evidence that plain packaging would work using slogans such as 'It's not worth the paper it's written on'. JTI claims that spending £2 million was necessary to ensure a wide reach of its messages to their target audience, ’both government and decision makers’. [6] The second wave suggested that plain packaging would have a detrimental impact on small businesses.

In addition to print adverts in national newspapers, adverts also appeared on online versions of national newspapers. Interactive banners at the top of the webpage advertised JTI's point of view that plain packaging would not work.


Following the widespread coverage of these ads both in print and online, Action for Smoking and Health (ASH), ASH Scotland and Cancer Research UK complained to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) that the claims made by JTI in the adverts were misleading.[7]

The JTI ads specifically claimed that the UK government had considered plain packaging previously and had ‘rejected’ the idea ‘when it was found to have no credible evidence’ for success.[8]

On 13 March 2013, the ASA ruled that the JTI ads were misleading.

“We acknowledged the numerous statements regarding the issue of plain packaging which had been provided by JTI, and which they considered demonstrated both that the Government had rejected the policy in 2008 and that it had done so because it lacked the evidence to support it. However, although the Government had decided not to take forward the proposal for plain packaging in the same way as it did with other measures considered in the consultation, we understood that they had nevertheless intended to keep the measure under review and planned to re-assess it at a later date.”[9]
”We therefore considered that the claims in the ads that the policy had been ‘rejected’ in 2008 because of a lack of credible evidence gave a misleading impression of the position and action taken at that time by the government and concluded that the ads breached the [advertising] code.” [9]


TobaccoTactics has summarises the evidence that refutes industry arguments. Please visit Countering Industry Arguments against Plain Packaging.

Grocer Coverage of the Martin Southgate Interview

The Grocer magazine is a magazine specifically for retailers. It attributes itself as “the UKs leading and most trusted fmcg [fast moving consumer goods] magazine. Bringing you the most up to date news, analysis, insights and research from the biggest industry in the UK.”[10]

In the write up of the Martin Southgate interview, the author of the piece, who is also the editor of The Grocer, Ronan Hegarty, repeats many of the industry arguments against plain packaging in his own voice. Below are some excerpts from the article which suggest that the Grocers’ interview write up is arguably anti-tobacco regulation.

“But it was in heading up the Irish business just as the display ban was being introduced that Southgate came face to face with the implications of ill-considered legislation. Not long after the ban was introduced [point of sale], Southgate was smoking a cigarette outside a Dublin restaurant when he was approached by a man with a bag full of contraband tobacco products. It brought it home to Southgate the scale of the problem facing the trade.”

This quote suggests that point-of-sale display bans have increased illicit trade. There is no independent evidence to support this suggestion. This argument has been used as an industry tactic in previous debates concerning the regulation of tobacco products. See Countering Industry Arguments Against Plain Packaging: It will Lead to Increased Smuggling

“Southgate has evidence to support his case. Figures on illicit trade compiled by JTI in February…revealed that up to 27% of all tobacco smoked in the UK was non-duty paid.”

Although Hegarty mentions that the figures were compiled by JTI he does not allude to the inherent conflict of interest that presents itself when JTI produce figures to support their claim.


Notes

  1. R. Hegarty, Big Interview with Martin Southgate: A step too far. The Grocer, 11 August 2012, 38-39
  2. 2.0 2.1 A. Ralph, Jorge da Motta to head Japan Tobacco in UK, The Times, 1 March 2013, Accessed March 2013
  3. JTI, Our Company JTI UK, accessed October 2012
  4. JTI, JTI UK: In Focus, accessed October 2012
  5. Asian Trader, Full page ads in national warn of dangers of plain packaging, 22 October 2012, accessed October 2012
  6. Japan Tobacco International Challenging UK ‘plain’ cigarette packs, accessed July 2012
  7. M. Sweney, ASH and Cancer Research win ban on ads attacking plain cigarette packs, 13 March 2012, Accessed March 2013
  8. The Financial Times, It’s not worth the paper it’s written on, JTI advert, 10th July 2012, p5
  9. 9.0 9.1 Advertising Standards Agency, ASA adjudication on Gallaher Ltd, 13 March 2013, Accessed March 2013
  10. The Grocer: About us, accessed October 2012