Claydon Heeley and ASH in BAT protests

LONDON - Action on Smoking and Health, the campaigning public health charity, has teamed up with Claydon Heeley to carry out a series of protests outside British American Tobacco's annual shareholders meeting being held today (Thursday).

A group of young protesters will aim to disrupt the conference by sitting outside the venue and imitating beggars who have lost their parents to lung cancer.

On Sunday, the campaigners parked an "Unlucky Strike"-branded ice-cream van on the course of the Flora London Marathon. By handing out red and white lollipops, the charity aimed to parody BAT's marketing methods for its Lucky Strike cigarette brand.

Mike Welsh, the Claydon Heeley managing director, said: "In reality, if you look at BAT's marketing activity, especially in the Third World, although BAT says it is not encouraging people to start smoking, what it says and what it does are two very different things. We're trying to persuade shareholders that they shouldn't be investing in BAT."

As well as employing digital marketing strategies to appeal to younger audiences, the tobacco giant has recently embarked on a five-year sponsorship with the Cricket Association of Nepal - a marketing activity that would be banned in the UK.