Light cigs, heavy profits

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Getting the tobacco industry to speak truthfully about the dangers of its products is normally like convincing Lex Luthor to put warning labels on kryptonite. So it’s pretty ironic that British American Tobacco has been conducting a massive campaign to convince the Indonesian government to require all cigarette makers to list tar and nicotine levels on every pack, as the CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR reports.

An attack of conscience? Nope, more like a marketing strategy. Because of loose regulations and a lack of public education about the health risks of tobacco, Indonesians have developed a taste for high tar cigarettes — high enough to make Lucky Strikes taste like Virginia Slims. BAT, the world’s second-largest tobacco company, is pitching its product as the “healthier” alternative to locally produced coffin nails. “It may be ironic, but this is just business,” says one tobacco analyst.

Last year, the Indonesian government signed a law limiting nicotine and tar levels in cigarettes, giving BAT a huge advantage over local manufacturers. But now the government, under pressure from BAT’s competitors, is considering rewriting the law. BAT’s opponents say the implication that “lower tar = less health risk” has never been proven.

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Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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