Organisers of an international conference in Hong Kong on corporate social responsibility has dumped cigarette giant Philip Morris as its lead sponsor after the head of the Consumer Council pulled out over concern at the choice of sponsor. UK-based magazine Ethical Corporation, organisers of the Ethical Corporation Asia 2004 conference, had announced Philip Morris was to sponsor the event but editor Tobias Webb says the publication has now withdrawn the sponsorship proposal due to 'adverse reaction' from some participants. However, organisations that vowed to boycott the event have yet to decide whether they will return. At the two-day event, to be held in October, participants are expected to discuss the relatively new concept of corporate social responsibility, which refers to businesses' commitments beyond those owed to their shareholders. Pamela Chan Wong-shui, the Consumer Council's chief executive, said she withdrew from the conference because she was initially invited to speak as a member of the global consumer rights lobby Consumers International. 'I have declined because there is a commitment for the international consumer movement to back anti-smoking initiatives,' she said. Marimuthu Nadason, secretary-general of the the Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations, has also pulled out due to tobacco sponsorship concerns. British American Tobacco was also expected to deliver a presentation, but Mr Webb said both cigarette companies' participation had been suspended. 'A lot of NGOs involved with the conference said that they didn't want to be involved if Philip Morris was a sponsor,' Mr Webb told the Sunday Morning Post. He added: 'We are a small, independent company and it was a tempting thing to look at to help us pay for the event ... One thing I can guarantee is that there will be no tobacco sponsorship of this event, or any of ours in the future.' A local Philip Morris spokeswoman said she had no comment.