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Operating the smokescreen

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.317.7154.301 (Published 01 August 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:301

Chris Proctor tells Kamran Abbasi why he works for the tobacco industry

“Haven't you sold your soul to the devil?” I ask Dr Chris Proctor, the head of science and regulation at British American Tobacco (BAT), one of the major tobacco companies. He smiles back at me.”I don't think I have, and my kids don't think I have,” he reassures himself.

“I know there is a notion of how can you possibly work for a tobacco company, and my view is that as long as I do things that I believe in, as long as I do things to the highest ethical standards, I'm quite happy to work for this company. And I believe I do that.”

But how do you sleep at night, Dr Proctor, knowing that your job is defending one of the biggest killers on the planet? “Everyone knows about the risk related to smoking, but smoking does give people a pleasure; there is something enjoyable about smoking, otherwise I wouldn't do it myself. And, as long as adults--and it has to be adults--are fully informed, then it is another one of those things in life that people do that are risky.”

Dr Proctor …

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