Anti-smoking campaigners in Japan are accusing one of the world’s leading tobacco companies of marketing products to teenage girls at World Cup volleyball events here. Japan Tobacco’s logo (JT) is on the national team uniforms, court-side digital billboards, TV ads and “gift” packages handed out to schoolgirls, mothers and children entering Yoyogi National Stadium and arenas across Japan during the World Cup, which runs until Dec. 4.
While the United States, European Union and other industrialized countries have long banned tobacco companies from sponsoring sporting events, Japan Tobacco has been a major promoter of volleyball. Japan has hosted every World Cup since 1977, and three of the last four world championships. Japan Tobacco also sponsors a national team starring the country’s top player, Yoshie Takeshita. The team wears Japan Tobacco logos and play before Japan Tobacco digital billboards ads.
Anti-smoking activists have long accused Japanese volleyball groups of promoting tobacco use, and say JT is targeting young women.