Beverley Spencer-Obatoyinbo

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Beverley Spencer-Obatoyinbo was appointed as Managing Director at British American Tobacco Kenya (BATK) in May 2017,1 replacing Keith Gretton.2 She is also the Area Director for BAT East and Central Africa Area.1

Long-Standing Career with BAT

Spencer-Obatoyinbo joined BAT in 1996 and has held several senior positions, including:134

  • Area Director of BAT Swiss Cluster, Western Europe Region (2014 – 2017);
  • Head of Human Resources for BAT East Europe, Africa and Middle East Region (2013 – 2014);
  • Area Director for BAT West Africa Area (2010 – 2012);
  • General Manager for BAT Egypt (2007 – 2010);
  • Marketing Director for BAT Nigeria (2004 – 2007);
  • Head of Trade Marketing & Distribution, Nigeria (2002 – 2004);

In 2010, she was appointed board member of the BAT Nigeria Foundation, a limited company set up by BAT in 2002 under a commitment to the Nigerian government, to “contribute to Nigeria’s socio-economic development”.5
Since taking up her post in Kenya, Spencer-Obatoyinbo has been quoted in the media arguing against changes in national tax regulations and increases in excise duty, and more recently the introduction of a tobacco control bill in Nairobi.

Against Tobacco Policy and Regulation in Kenya

BAT Kenya has been urging the Government to review its taxation policy on tobacco with Spencer-Obatoyinbo stating that it ‘’holds back the government led war against counterfeit and smuggled tobacco,’’6 an argument commonly used to undermine tobacco control policies which is not supported by the evidence.7.8
At BAT Kenya’s AGM in 2018, she said the government should not implement the proposed 5.2% increase in excise duty on cigarettes under the Financial Bill 2018, and instead consider ‘’putting more resources in creating an environment favourable to business.’’9

Challenged Nairobi Tobacco Control Bill 2018

BAT claimed that the Nairobi City County Tobacco Bill 2018, which proposes the creation of a new department responsible for tobacco control and health, including issuing licences to tobacco retailers, represented “over-regulation”.10 Spencer-Obatoyinbo argued that this bill would disrupt retail business and increase illicit trade,10 arguments restated by business organisations in Kenya.11

TobaccoTactics Resources

Relevant Link

British American Tobacco Kenya Website

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  1. abcBritish American Tobacco Kenya, The Board, undated, accessed March 2019
  2. BAT chief’s pay jumps to Sh60 million on promotion, Business Daily Africa, 28 April 2019
  3. British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation, Board of Directors, undated, accessed March 2019
  4. LinkedIn Profile, Beverley Spencer-Obatoyinbo, undated, accessed March 2019
  5. British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation, About Us, undated, accessed March 2019
  6. K. Muiruri, BAT calls for the rational taxation of tobacco,, 14 May 2018, accessed March 2019
  7. Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), World Bank cites UK as example of how tobacco taxes can be used to increase government revenues and improve public health ASH press release 1 February 2019, accessed March 2019
  8. A. B. Gilmore, G. Fooks, J. Drope, S. Aguinaga Bialous, R. R. Jackson, Exposing and addressing tobacco industry conduct in low-income and middle-income countries The Lancet,2015,385(9972): 1029-1043, accessed March 2019
  9. M. Roberto, Cigarette maker BAT braves tough local environment to rake in KSh 2 billion profit,, September 2018, accessed March 2019
  10. abP. Alushula, BAT says City tobacco bill ‘extreme’, The Daily Nation, 17 February 2019, accessed March 2019
  11. V. Amadala, Business bodies slam Nairobi’s Tobacco Bill as too oppressive, The Star, 4 March 2019, accessed March 2019