A hard sell in a dark market
Nick O’Malley; 24/4/10
The parliamentary interrogation began badly for the tobacco executive. After the briefest of greetings, the first question was asked: ”I’d just like to read you something,” he said. ”It’s a quote. ‘We don’t smoke this shit, we just sell it. We reserve the right to smoke for the young, the poor, the black and the stupid.’ That’s a quote attributed to a tobacco company executive. Was that a quote from one of your company executives?” The question was put last month. The executive in the hot seat was Graeme Amey, the head of the New Zealand arm of British American Tobacco Australia. Of course, he had never said any such thing. The line is commonly attributed to an actor in a commercial for Winston cigarettes, recounting what he was told by an R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company executive on set in the 1980s. Still, the question set the tone for the whole bruising parliamentary hearing in New Zealand, one which may soon be replayed in Canberra.