Opera and Cigarettes

By: Frank Cadenhead. It was not just “politically incorrect.” The Belgian government has accused the Opéra Royal de Wallonie in Liège of possibly violating a law by receiving financial support from a tobacco company. Support by Japan Tobacco International, whose brands include Winston and Camel, has not been hidden and the company’s logo appears is on the home page of the opera’s website, alongside those of other sponsors.

In an article in the Belgian newspaper, Le Soir, Maggie De Block, the Federal Minister of Public Health, declared that the government will “take the necessary measures” to investigate the infraction. The newspaper quotes the 1977 law for the protection of consumer health as prohibiting “advertising and sponsorship by tobacco” in Belgium.

Japan Tobacco International, however, asserted that this sponsorship was legal. The company maintains that this support is separate from any commercial purpose or activity. “Our collaboration has never made any reference or publicity for tobacco products,” they maintain.

This potential violation of the law will be investigated by the inspection services of the ministry.


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