Ex-tobacco worker was given 1,200 cigarettes a month

  • Published
Simon NealeImage source, Leigh Day/PA
Image caption,
Simon Neale started work for Rothmans in 1982

An ex-tobacco worker who has inoperable lung cancer is considering suing his former employers over free cigarettes given out as a "perk" of the job.

Simon Neale, 57, who worked for Rothmans in 1982, for four years, said he was given 1,200 cigarettes a month.

Father-of-three Mr Neale, from the South West, has blamed the firm, which merged with British American Tobacco in 1999, for his cancer diagnosis.

Manufacturers said smoking was a matter of adult choice, with well-known risks.

Mr Neale said: "I went from being an occasional smoker, a social smoker, to being a heavy smoker because I had so many cigarettes given to me.

"The lung cancer has all come about from me working for Rothmans."

Image caption,
The Imperial Tobacco factory Nottingham employed thousands but has now been demolished

Campaigners ASH claim free cigarettes encouraged workers to smoke even though firms knew it was harmful and is looking for people whose health suffered.

Professor of epidemiology at the University of Nottingham John Britton - who is on the board of ASH - said about 5,000 people worked for Imperial Tobacco in the East Midlands at one point.

"ASH's case is that if the company at the time knows the product is addictive, and it is a product you are encouraged to use, they are encouraging you to become addictive," he said.

In a statement, Imperial Tobacco said: "Smoking is a matter of adult choice. The health risks of smoking have been widely known and publicised for many decades."

Image caption,
Some employees were given hundreds of cigarettes a month

British American Tobacco said: "Historically, BAT employees had the option to receive a monthly allowance of cigarettes.

"At all times, these products complied with all applicable laws and regulations, including the relevant health warnings."

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