New PR blow for British American Tobacco as F1 team struggles

A single podium place this year and a distant sixth place in the Constructors' Championship for the team they sponsor and part-own - trailing fellow Honda users Jordan - may be the least of the current PR problems for British American Tobacco this year. Having sluiced an estimated $100 million away supporting Craig Pollock's team over the past two and a half years, they now face an understandably bad press in the UK thanks to a relatively modest $5.7 million gift to a British university.

The editor of the British Medical Journal has resigned as a professor at Nottingham University over its decision to accept $5.7 million from British American Tobacco.

Richard Smith said the decision was "a serious mistake" which had damaged the university. He quit his unpaid, part-time post as professor of medical journalism in the light of a readers' vote via his magazine's website. Of 1075 votes cast, 84 per cent said the university should return the money and 54 per cent said Mr. Smith should resign if he refused to do so.

The Cancer Research Campaign said it was "very pleased" at Smith's decision. It has cancelled a $2.25 million fund raising appeal to replace out-of-date buildings at the university and David Thurston, a leading cancer researcher, has announced that he was moving his research group.

With PR like this, cynics are bound to wonder why BAT needs an F1 team at all.

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