Will O’Reilly

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In the UK, the tobacco industry has employed a tactic of using ex-Police officers to front its campaigns against the Point of Sale Display Ban and against plain packaging. This is a classic use of the third party technique.

Working for PMI

Image 1: PMI’s media messengers, PMI leaked powerpoint slide 2013

Since late 2011, Will O’Reilly, former Detective Chief Inspector with the Metropolitan Police, has been appearing in the press as a so-called “expert” working for Philip Morris International (PMI) tackling tobacco smuggling. O’Reilly is a director, along with his wife, of a company called WOR Consultancy Limited. 1
Sometimes press articles mention that O’Reilly is working for the tobacco company,2 but at other times they do not.34

“Media Messenger”

In 2013, leaked internal tobacco industry documents, including powerpoints, revealed the extent of PMI’s anti-plain packaging campaign in the UK during the previous year. See also:

Under the headline, “Media messengers” were the initials “WOR.” Given that Will O’Reilly’s company is WOR Consultancy Limited, it shows that the ex-Policeman is an integral part of the company’s anti-plain packaging public relations campaign. (Image 1)

Active In Scotland

O’Reilly has not just been active in England. After the Scottish government announced in September 2013 that it would proceed with plain packaging, O’Reilly started appearing in many Scottish media outlets scaremongering about tobacco smuggling.56 7 89
For more see:

Investigations in Australia and Ireland

In his submission to the UK Government’s Independent Review into Plain Packaging undertaken by Sir Cyril Chantler, O’Reilly wrote:

Since 2011 my role as a consultant for Philip Morris International has been to conduct extensive research into the illicit trade in tobacco products and to act as a spokesperson on the subject. I have studied the illicit trade across the UK including separate projects in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland … More recently I travelled to Australia to gain an insight of the situation there since the introduction of standardised packaging or plain packaging (PP) for tobacco products.10

Other Ex-Policemen with links to the Tobacco Industry

  • Peter Sheridan – Former Assistant Chief Constable and Head of Organised Crime and Murder Investigation;
  • Roy Ramm – Former Commander of Specialist Operations at New Scotland Yard.

TobaccoTactics Resources

TCRG Research

The following study provides details on how the tobacco industry has manipulated media coverage of the illicit tobacco trade in the UK and over-estimated the size of the illicit market:

Visit Tobacco Control Research Group: Peer-Reviewed Research for a full list of our journal articles of tobacco industry influence on public health policies.

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  1. Abbreviated Accounts for WOR Consultancy Limited, Year Ended 31 March 2013
  2. Wells Journal, Counterfeit and foreign cigarette levels, 27 September, 2012, p14
  3. D. Young, “Town Top of Illegal Cigarette Table”, PA Newswire: Northern Ireland, 5 March 2012
  4. H. Thomas, “Smokers Failing to do their Duty; Coventry is fourth worst city in country at paying tax on tobacco”, Coventry Evening Telegraph, 6 March, 2012, p8
  5. K. Pickles, “One in five city venues found to be selling illegal cigarettes”, Evening News (Edinburgh), 23 January 2014, p20
  6. T. Pauling, “Trade in illicit tobacco ‘rife'”, Aberdeen Press and Journal, 22 January 2014
  7. E. Cairns, “Terrorist Cigs Link: ‘Loyalists in smokes racket'”, Scottish Star, 2 December 2013, p20
  8. S. Kilpatrick, “Bootleg baccy trade exposed”, Dumfries and Galloway Standard, 27 November 2013, p5
  9. D. White, “Crimelords behind trade in illegal cigs”; Stirling Observer, 22 November 2013
  10. W. O’Reilly, Will O’Reilly Submission to the UK Plain Packaging Review, undated