The West Indian Tobacco Company (Witco) maintained yesterday that when it recently embarked on its special edition Carnival product packaging, it had been advised this would not be a breach of the Tobacco Control Act.
"We did not consider it lifestyle advertising. Carnival is part of the culture and so is duMaurier (the brand of cigarettes in question). The way we interpreted it, and were advised that what we wanted to do was not in any way breaking the law," said managing director Jean-Pierre de Coudray. He was speaking to reporters yesterday after the company's annual general meeting at the Hyatt Regency (Trinidad) Hotel, Port of Spain.
Earlier this month, the Trinidad and Tobago Cancer Society accused Witco of an "illegal and deliberate" breach of the Tobacco Control Act by allowing itself to be publicly acknowledged for sponsorship of Carnival 2012 and Christmas 2011 events.
Society chairman, Dr George Laquis, stated Witco's use of Carnival images on its cigarette packets was in contradiction of the Act by exposing minors to any lifestyle advertising supposedly geared at adults or promote its sponsorship of any activities.
The society had also threatened legal action against the company.
Witco earned a before-tax profit of $402 million last year, 8.1 per cent more than 2010. Thirty-eight per cent of the company's income goes towards government taxes.
Rising raw material prices—by 14 per cent—also led to the company raising prices last year by about five per cent.