1980s Cigarette Salesman Blames the Freebies for His Lung Cancer

By Gary Cutlack on at

Simon Neale worked as a salesman for Rothmans back in the 1980s, so it's no surprise that he enjoyed the odd smoke. What does seem particularly insane looking back, though, is that his employer handed him an allowance of free cigarettes averaging to about 40 a day over the period of his employment; a bizarre promotion that Neale says contributed to his smoking habit and led to his 2019 lung cancer diagnosis.

Rothmans is now under the wing of British American Tobacco, and, incredibly, in its mitigating comments about Neale's possible legal case, BAT said that it still hands out free cigarettes to employees in six of the territories it operates in, and that's all fine as health laws in all countries are followed so everything's all above board on the free cigarettes train.

Neale said: "It's staggering looking back on it, but I was told when I joined the company that I’d be getting 1,200 free cigarettes a month. Working at Rothmans I went from being an occasional smoker, a social smoker, to being a heavy smoker because I had so many cigarettes given to me."

Anti-smoking pressure group ASH has taken up Simon's case, with exec Deborah Arnott saying: "Simon Neale is not the only one. Many thousands of employees were given free cigarettes and free cigarettes were also doled out to the public. Big Tobacco promoted its products, while hiding from the public, and its own employees, its own evidence that smoking was heavily addictive." [Examiner Live]