Mission Australia has this week released a media statement “Drugs a growing concern for young Australians“.

Mission Australia’s concerns about young people and drugs are no doubt genuine, but would be much more credible if they were not themselves associated with leading drug-peddlers.

The Mission Australia Annual Report for 2007 lists British American Tobacco Australia among its “Major Supporters”. Reciprocally, BATA, in its 2007 “Social Report”, refers to its Association with Mission Australia on no less than four pages.

In their generosity, BAT Australia have even “provided bins and ashtrays amounting to nearly $15,000 to several Mission Australia adult accommodation services”.

There is also a touching featured quote from a Mission Australia spokesperson about how “the BAT Australia volunteers (have) become an important part of our Christmas celebrations”.

Cigarettes are lethal when used precisely as intended. Tobacco is by far our largest cause of drug deaths. BATA are among the world’s most successful drug peddlers. Their products kill literally millions of people around the world. They, like other tobacco companies, have a long history of marketing their products ruthlessly to adults and young people alike.

If Mission Australia want their concerns about drug use to be taken seriously, the first thing they should do is cut their ties with tobacco companies, rather than being part of their promotional activities.