David O’Reilly

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Dr David O’Reilly has been a member of the British American Tobacco (BAT) management team from 2012 when he was appointed Group Scientific Director.1

Career with British American Tobacco

O’Reilly started working for BAT in 1989 and has held various positions in Research & Development (R&D) and Corporate Affairs.
He led BAT’s programs in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), harm reduction, and public health policy engagement. 2


O’Reilly is the co-founder of the tobacco industry-funded Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum (GTNF), a tobacco industry networking forum launched in 2008. O’Reilly served as first chair of the GTNF advisory board until he stood down in 2016.3
He was also a speaker at the Global Forum of Nicotine 2017, an event organised by Knowledge-Action-Change (K-A-C). Gerry Stimson, the Director of K-A-C., has declared that he received hospitality from BAT staff in the past.4
O’Reilly has also been a speaker at the annual industry event TabExpo.56

Controversy: “Nicotine Is Good For Health”

In 2013, O’Reilly caused controversy when he told The Sunday Times Magazine that “nicotine is good for you”.7 He added that he believed that nicotine was good for the brain and that smoking an e-cigarette “was as safe as drinking a cup of coffee”. Will Hill, BAT spokesperson, backed up O’Reilly’s claim by saying that “nicotine was good for health as it was being used by pharmaceutical companies to treat Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.”
Health experts however have dismissed these claims as ‘irresponsible’, and only part of the story. Professor John Britton, chairman of the British Royal College of Physicians, agreed that in single use nicotine could improve concentration and hand-eye co-ordination, but added that nicotine is “also a powerfully addictive drug , and there comes a time when you need nicotine just for your brain to function normally”.8

TobaccoTactics Resources

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British American Tobacco homepage

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  1. British American Tobacco, Management Board: Our leadership team, undated, accessed September 2017
  2.  Global Forum on Nicotine 2017 Speakers Bios: Dr David O’Reilly, undated, accessed September 2017
  3. Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum, GTNF 2017 Advisory Board, undated, accessed September 2017
  4. NICE, Tobacco harm reduction – 1st Meeting of the Programme Development Group, Tuesday 18th October 2011, Final Minutes, accessed September 2017
  5. Tobacco Reporter, TR Staff Report, Strong Line Up, July 2011
  6. TabExpo London 2015: Programme, undated, accessed September 2017
  7. C. Conway, J. Arlidge. Nicotine is good for you, says tobacco firm scientist. The Sunday Times, 15 December 2013
  8. Royal College of Physicians, Nicotine without smoke. Tobacco harm reduction. A report by the Tobacco Advisory Group of the Royal College of Physicians, RCP website, 2016, accessed September 2017