John Oliver uses ‘Last Week Tonight’ to launch PR campaign against Big Tobacco

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Tobacco Segment

Meet Jeff the diseased lung, Marlboro’s new mascot.

John Oliver, fresh from taking on Big Pharma last week, has a new enemy: tobacco companies.

Everyone knows that tobacco companies are evil. It’s kind of a no-brainer; their entire job is to sell something that kills people. But according to John Oliver’s new segment, what we don’t realize is that tobacco companies are still doing really, really well. While smoking has become less popular in the U.S., tobacco companies are thriving overseas—especially in poorer countries, where companies like Philip Morris International can sue governments that introduce health regulations into submission.

Thankfully, Last Week Tonight was on the case.

While most of the segment is pretty grim, Oliver does come up with a solution: rebranding tobacco’s image with a new mascot. Inspired by the Marlboro Man, Oliver introduces Jeff the Diseased Lung, who is already showing up on social media—and on billboards in Uruguay, where the government is currently being sued by a tobacco company.

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Oliver’s plan is to make Jeff so popular that he shows up in Marlboro’s Google image searches. We hope HBO has a good legal team at the ready.

Photo via Last Week Tonight/YouTube

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in sci-fi movies and superheroes, she also appears as a film and TV critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested. Follow her on Twitter: @Hello_Tailor