Tobacco group calls a doctor
"One puff and they'll soon be in my grasp!" said Nick O'Teen, the villain in the anti-smoking adverts back in the eighties.
And into the fold of British American Tobacco (BAT), whose chairman is former Irish Distillers boss and onetime Bank of Ireland governor Richard Burrows, has flown retired US Air Force general Richard Tubb.
The esteemed doctor was the White House physician and the president's personal physician – the very one who treated George Bush in 2002 after the leader of the free world passed out after choking on a snack while watching football one evening.
'The Punt' is impressed that BAT has managed to lure the doctor. He is, notes Burrows – who was also joint director general of Pernod Ricard – a "leading public health figure actively involved in the science and policy development of tobacco harm reduction and alternative nicotine products".
The BAT website tells us: "With smoking, the many laboratory investigations over the years have proved more problematic, and science has not to date been able to identify biological mechanisms which can explain with certainty the statistical findings linking smoking and certain diseases." Indeed.
It does admit that smoking causes serious and potentially fatal diseases, however. We can't imagine the conversations that the good doctor is going to have with the board.