LEGENDARY rock’n’roll band the New York Dolls have cancelled their Australian tour after their plans to play a series of tobacco industry promotional events were exposed.
The band’s October tour itinerary, posted on its website, included shows in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney for cigarette brand Peter Stuyvesant, owned by Imperial Tobacco, along with dates at New York-themed festival the Boroughs.
But the entire Australian tour has been cancelled and the Boroughs website deleted after news of the tobacco gigs was posted on music website Mess & Noise on Monday.
Trade events, where tobacco companies ply retailers and nightclub operators with free alcohol and entertainment, are one of the few promotional tools left to the industry.
Professor of public health at the University of Sydney Simon Chapman said Imperial Tobacco’s actions suggested they were ramping up their promotional efforts before plain-packaging legislation to be introduced today and likely to have taken effect by January.
”I’ve never heard of them bringing international acts out. I’ve heard of them using local acts, though, so it suggests they are getting cheekier,” he said.
Tobacco companies will face fines of up to $1 million for breaching the government’s plain-pack legislation. Tobacco companies are formulating various legal challenges.
The new Australian packaging will remove logos, colours and promotional text from packets that will be coloured a uniform drab green-brown, chosen for having the lowest appeal to smokers. Packaging will include larger health warning images. Brand names will be in a small standard font.
Imperial Tobacco spokeswoman Cathie Keogh initially denied the company had entered negotiations with the New York Dolls or had any trade events planned for October.
However, she later confirmed that October trade shows were being considered and that an unnamed agency had ”commenced discussions with potential service providers including New York Dolls, for involvement in Peter Stuyvesant trade events”.
No one else involved in the aborted tour would speak to The Age and details of the companies involved have been scrubbed from the internet.
The touring company behind the Boroughs festival, Killrockstar Big Dog Entertainment, has deleted its website and Steve Wools and Josh Lefers of associated branding agency Big Dog did not return emails or phone calls.
The New York Dolls’ London-based agent, Ian Fintak, of The Agency Group, did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
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