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The regulations and marketing restrictions against the tobacco industry have never been stronger, and yet big tobacco companies such as Philip Morris International (PMI), British American Tobacco (BAT), or Japanese Tobacco International (JTI) are making more and more profit every year. How is this possible? Well, it’s quite simple in fact. While smoking rates have dropped significantly in developed countries (thanks to the regulations mentioned above), they continue to rise to a shocking extent in developing countries around the world (where there are still very few regulations). Here is part of an American talk show (Last Week Tonight with John Oliver) dedicated to this important topic. Before listening to the video, read the vocabulary list below.

Then, once you have read the vocabulary and watched the video, try answering the questions at the end of this article. Good luck!

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– Cornerstone: the base or center of something.

– To settle back: to lay back and relax.

– Icon: person or thing seen as a symbol and worthy of veneration.

– Ruggedness: roughness, strength.

– Steadily: that occurs at a regular and unchanging pace.

– Warning label: small piece of paper attached to a product giving information about it.

– To decimate: to destroy, to remove a large portion of something.

– Extent: the size or area covered by something.

– To be addicted: to be physically or mentally dependent on a substance.

– To bang: to hit.

– Crew: a group of people who work closely together (ex: a news crew).

– To flank: to be on each side of someone or something.

– To flock: to assemble somewhere in a large amount (can be used for people or animals).

– Restriction: a limiting condition or law.

– To bring home a point: to prove one’s point, to state an idea effectively.

– Dime: a ten-cent coin.

– To resonate: to produce a deep reverberating sound, (fig.) to evoke past images or memories.

– Catalyst: a person or thing that increases the rhythm or speed of an activity.

– Bold: daring, courageous, confident.

– To pull something back: to make something less showy, less exaggerated.[/text_output][x_video_embed type=”16:9″ no_container=””]

LISTEN FROM 0:00 to 6:27[/x_video_embed][text_output]


1. Were cigarettes an important part of American society in the 60s?(Elaborate)

2. What was Marlboro’s first slogan?

3. How were the actors who played in Marlboro commercials called?

4. What values were these actors supposed to represent?

5. How many actors playing in Marlboro commercials died from smoking-related diseases?

6. Why is it strange for us to see old tobacco ads today?

7. What did the ex-CEO of Phillip Morris claim about the babies of mothers who smoked?

8. When and why did JTI and PMI retire Joe the Camel and the Marlboro Man?

9. Did government regulations and marketing restrictions help lower smoking rates in the U.S.? By what amount?

10. Were tobacco companies greatly affected by this market loss in the U.S.?

Did they recover?

11. Why has tobacco production increased despite all the regulations against it and also despite the fact that much less Americans smoke than 40 years ago?

12. Where does PMI sell its cigarette brands?

13. What percentage of adult males smoke in Indonesia?

14. What example is given to show that there are very few regulations against tobacco companies in Indonesia?

15. How much do individual cigarettes cost in Indonesia?

16. How many of the top 15 international brands does PMI own?

17. What is the slogan of the latest Marlboro ad campaign?

18. What are the values that Marlboro claims to represent?

19. What do tobacco companies do against countries that decide to act against their media campaigns?

20. What anti-tobacco law was passed in Australia in 2011?


1. Yes. Cigarettes were present everywhere in the media, including in the hands of trusted newsmen and beloved cartoon characters.

2. Come to where the flavor is. Come to Marlboro Country.

3. Marlboro Men.

4. Ruggedness and freedom.

5. Four.

6. Because, for the past fifty years, America has steadily limited how tobacco companies can behave.

7. That their babies were just as healthy as those born from non-smoking mothers.

8. In the late nineties. Because the anti-tobacco regulations were becoming too stringent.

9. Yes. They lowered adult smoking rates from 43% in 1965 to 18% today.

10. Not in the long run. They recovered quite fast.

11. Because in some other places of the world, people are smoking more, sometimes to a shocking extent.

12. Everywhere but America.

13. 67%.

14. There are cigarette vendors at the entrances of schools.

15. Ten cents.

16. Seven.

17. Don’t Be A Maybe.

18. Freedom, Authenticity and Boldness.

19. They attack the laws of those countries intended to protect public health.

20. The plain packaging law.

We hope you enjoyed this reading and listening exercise. You can find many similar exercises on our website at: http://englishclassviaskype.com.

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Hasta la vista, baby!