British-American Tobacco Holdings has ended its three month search for a
consumer and regulatory affairs director to spearhead an assault on the
Andrew Napier joined BAT this week on a part-time basis from the
International Olympic Committee in Geneva, where he was public relations
director for two years. He will join the BAT Holdings board officially
on 1 May.
Napier, a former director of governmental and corporate affairs for Ford
of Europe and public affairs manager for Philip Morris Europe before
that, takes responsibility for local PR managers in each of BAT
Holdings’ five geographical regions and will report directly to managing
director Ulrich Herter.
He will also have the task of building up a 20 to 25-strong consumer and
regulatory affairs team to promote BAT’s 250 cigarette brands worldwide,
including Lucky Strike, Kent, Pall Mall and State Express 555. More
controversially, the new department - which will include scientists and
lawyers as well as public relations professionals - will work to combat
social and medical arguments against smoking.
Michael Prideaux, director of group public affairs at parent company BAT
Industries said the department would put forward its own case on issues
such as passive smoking to both consumers and government regulators.
‘We recognised we hadn’t been as active at putting our case in the past
as we should have,’ said Prideaux.
‘In forming our positions on issues in the tobacco industry you need to
have advice from all quarters.
‘The idea that second-hand smoking is bad for you is absurd and we have
allowed that idea to get away for too long. It’s championing the cause
of sound science.’
Napier arrives at a difficult time for BAT. The company faces lawsuits
in at least three US states amid claims by a former employee that it
knew for decades about the addictive nature of nicotine and used
cancerous additives in pipe tobacco.