OPINION: Editorial - Summers fires tobacco imagination

The publication this week of research claiming that children can become addicted to cigarettes after smoking just half a dozen means that the newly-appointed head of public affairs at British-American Tobacco has a major job on his hands.

The publication this week of research claiming that children can become addicted to cigarettes after smoking just half a dozen means that the newly-appointed head of public affairs at British-American Tobacco has a major job on his hands.

Martin Summers is a brave man to take on the task and is going to have to be very good not to fail. His role - as the firm's voice in the corridors of power - is daunting. It will, as one industry veteran put it, 'leave him with plenty of challenges, precious few friends, and a government that basically has no interest in anything he has to say'.

Tobacco companies are repositioning themselves as responsible corporate citizens who just happen to sell a product some find distasteful. Facing the combined forces of the medical community, the anti-smoking lobby and a Labour government essentially opposed to it, makes his brief more difficult.

The upside is that the Government has proved flexible on key issues where money is at stake. Summers ought to hope it remains so, since keeping tobacco duties affordable is the best way of maintaining the sales growth his company seeks.



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