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BBC NEWS | Health | Website on tobacco giant launched
Website on tobacco giant launched
A website has been launched detailing the inner workings of leading tobacco firm British American Tobacco.

The site includes 1m pages of memos, research and reports, which BAT was forced to make public by a US court.

The researchers compiled the site by scanning documents from BAT's depository in Guildford, Surrey.

The website, which will be added to, is a joint project by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the University of California in the US.

The webstie gives us a unique insight into how BAT has prevented the spread of anti-smoking strategies
Jeff Collin

The current information relates to company practice from the 1950s to 1995.

It contains information on marketing strategies, sports sponsorship, political influence and pricing.

When it is completed in 2006 it will contain more than 8m pages of information on the company.

BAT was forced to release the information in 1998 after litigation brought by the State of Minnesota and Minnesota Blue Cross Shield.

The project, known as the Guildford Archiving Project, was set up in 2001 as the depository is set to close in 2009.

Jeff Collin, a lecturer from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said it was the first time the public would have "real access" to the documents as the Surrey depository had remained largely inaccessible because of limited opening hours and indexing.


He claimed: "The website gives us a unique insight into how BAT has prevented the spread of anti-smoking strategies.

"And this in turn will help the community to develop more effective responses."

In the past, BAT has been accused of obstructing the researchers, who also analysed documents stored at offices in Minnesota in the US - although these are thought not to be as detailed as the papers kept in Surrey.

But BAT, which is behind brands such as Lucky Strike, Kent, Dunhill and Pall Mall, said it was not concerned that the website had gone live.

A spokeswoman said: "We have known that they have been doing this for some time.

"Many researchers and journalists have trawled through the documents. If there was anything to be found, it would have been found.

"There is nothing there that overly concerns us."

But she refused to comment on the specific allegation that the company had stopped the spread of anti-smoking strategies across the world, saying BAT was "working with organisations to combat youth smoking".

Brown and Williamson, a subsidiary of BAT, has been accused of lying about the effects of smoking along with other leading tobacco firms in an ongoing $280bn lawsuit in the US.