An occasional cigar smoker, he will initially work alongside Sir Patrick Sheehy, 62, who will remain chairman of the pounds 14bn tobacco and financial services group for two or three years.
Sir Patrick, who is chairing a commission on police management, had been expected to retire this year.
It is the first time the group, which employs 100,000, has split the roles of chairman and chief executive. Mr Broughton said the split was 'experimental'.
Mr Broughton, who already runs the financial services side including Eagle Star and Allied Dunbar, said he was 'fairly conscious' of his youth. But he was used to managing older colleagues.
After grammar school in Westminster - round the corner from BAT's London head office - and qualifying as an accountant, he joined BAT 'because I wanted to travel at someone else's expense'. He spent six years in Brazil and has had spells in South Africa, Argentina, Bangladesh and Hong Kong.
When he joined BAT in 1971 the group was 'like a club' and staffed by expatriates. He says it is now less stuffy.
He has been a front-runner for the top job since Michael Butt, the former head of Eagle Star, left after the insurance company disclosed it had lost money on the mortgage insurance business.
Mr Broughton said yesterday that he had taken the job without knowing how much he would be paid. Sir Patrick did not know how much his pay was going to be cut on giving up responsibility for day- to-day management.
Asked if he had a 'wish list', he said he was keen for the Gatt talks to be completed. 'Protectionism appears to be creeping in. I hope this is misplaced.'
He also wants tobacco companies to retain the 'freedom of commercial speech', which means the freedom to advertise, and the Personal Investment Authority to get off the ground.
The PIA would regulate unit trusts and other investments sold to the public.
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