Magazine article Marketing

No Smoke without Ire

Magazine article Marketing

No Smoke without Ire

Article excerpt

Anyone out there considering a career change? What about this

one? A move that would instantly halve your salary; double your hours and

expose you to early morning grillings by terrier-like journalists.

This was Clive Bates's choice. A few years ago he was a

[pounds]54,000-a-year marketing specialist at IBM. Now he's the voice of

anti-smoking pressure group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). You've

probably heard him on Radio 4's Today programme or read his quotes in the

press, tirelessly tearing into the tobacco industry.

"I'm absolutely exhausted," says Bates, sipping a cappuccino in the chaotic

Fitzrovia offices of the antismoking charity, "but I've never been happier".

This is because, like the napalm-sniffing general in the film Apocalypse

Now, he smells victory.

Since becoming director of ASH nine months ago, Bates has seen real

breakthroughs in the fortunes of the anti-smoking movement. The biggest was

the EU Health Council's resolution in December last year to ban all

promotion of tobacco products by the year 2006.

He was similarly elated last week as the ASH PR machine scored another

point. The national press revealed UK cigarette giant Gallaher had, back in

1970, confirmed smoking causes cancer, yet still refuses to admit this

publicly. The coverage caused a stir in the City and Gallaher's share price

dropped 19p.

Of course the mounting problems of the tobacco industry are not just down to

ASH. Bates is the first director of the charity to work under a government

committed to anti-smoking legislation. He has also been able to access

valuable ammunition from the trickle of internal tobacco firm documents

released due to litigation cases by cancer sufferers in the US and the UK.

But Bates, 37, has brought his own brand of nervous energy to the game. In

person, he is a very different character to John Carlisle, the spokesman for

the tobacco industry and his arch-adversary on the airwaves.

Whereas Carlisle is a smooth, laid-back and wily political campaigner, Bates

relies on his natural enthusiasm. He is always a little harassed and looks

distinctly uncomfortable in a suit.

It is this combination of conviction and restlessness that made him ditch

the lucrative IBM job to do a Masters degree in environmental studies and

become a campaigner for Greenpeace.

So what made him do it?.

"IBM was a fascinating business but I asked myself: Do I really care which

computer produces my gas bill? I was always an admirer of ASH and was prone

to sudden 20-minute diatribes on the evils of cigarettes and their

producers. …

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