Last month, when pop singer Alicia Keys protested Philip Morris International's (PMI) sponsorship of her concert in Jakarta, Indonesia, PMI was forced to pull down posters and billboards that promoted the event. That debacle was hardly over when health advocates started pushing for PMI to end its involvement in yet another concert, the August 30 reunion of the Filipino group Eraserheads, a band so popular in this part of the world that it has been dubbed the "Beatles of the Philippines." People seeking tickets to the free concert are directed to www.marlboro.ph, a Web site run by PMI's Philippine subsidiary. To obtain tickets and information, visitors must provide personal contact information that allows PMI to send them promotional materials for cigarettes. The Eraserheads concert is generating tremendous buzz on the Internet that often mentions the Marlboro web site and brand name, conferring substantial positive publicity upon PMI and its best-selling cigarette brand. But last week, the Philippines Department of Health warned PMI that it is violating the country's tobacco regulation law, which, as of July 1, 2008 prohibits all forms of tobacco advertising in mass media, including the Internet, places strict restrictions on other tobacco promotional activities and bans tobacco company sponsorship of concerts and other events.
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