The British Museum, the #Royal Academy of Arts, the South Bank Centre and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, have long-standing lucrative corporate membership and sponsorship deals with two leading cigarette manufacturers, which are banned from advertising in the UK.
The links have dismayed many in the medical community. “As a doctor specialising in the care of people with emphysema, I see the harm smoking causes every day,” said Dr Nick Hopkinson, reader in respiratory medicine and honorary consultant physician at the National Heart and Lung Institute, who is leading a campaign against the tie-ups.
“Tobacco companies, which rely on getting people addicted to products, which maim and kill, must not be allowed to use arts sponsorship as a way to present [themselves] as respectable.”
Tobacco giant JTI has corporate membership deals with the British Museum, the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Royal Academy of Arts. JTI pays almost £40,000 a year to the Royal Academy for a premier membership package that sees the company listed in all exhibition catalogues. The company is also a corporate supporter of the Southbank Centre on whose website its logo appears.
More than 1,000 healthcare experts, including 57 professors, have signed an open letter calling on some of London’s most respected cultural institutions to abandon their financial links with big tobacco.