Liverpool Health Authority confirmed two days ago that it had bought more than pounds 12,000 worth of shares in BAT, British and American Tobacco Industries.
But many senior managers in the health authority were embarrassed when the deal, arranged by the authority's Trust Funds Investment Committee, became public.
Alan Doran, chief executive of Liverpool Health Authority, said that the trust 'has decided to put them back on the market to be sold'.
The trust had been acting on the advice of financial advisers, he said. 'It was a good business move to buy the BAT shares and BAT deals in many things, not only tobacco.'
But Mr Doran admitted: 'It was a bit unfortunate the trust purchased the shares.'
One of the sharpest critics of the purchase is John Carson, chairman of Liverpool Eastern Community Health Council, the local health services watchdog, who said that health authority offices were full of information warning people of the dangers of smoking, and advising them to stop.
'I believe the public will perceive a conflict of interests. We have No Smoking Day and health authority offices with all kinds of leaflets. This was so hypocritical and totally inappropriate,' he said.Reuse content