Some Say Outgoing Ochsner CEO’s Comments Were Racially Insensitive

Paul Murphy, WWLTV (New Orleans), May 21, 2012

Ochsner Health System’s outgoing CEO is apologizing for making what some are now calling racially insensitive remarks about smoking.


Dr. Patrick Quinlan was interviewed for the first anniversary of the hospital group becoming a tobacco-free workplace.

The article quoted Quinlan as saying, “None of my friends smoke, but studies clearly show that the poorer you are the more you smoke. The blacker you are the more you smoke.”

“It’s unfortunate that one sentence was taken to mean something that it didn’t, but the facts behind them are true,” said Quinlan.

Quinlan says what he meant to say is that the tobacco industry has targeted groups successfully to get them addicted and stay addicted to tobacco and that people who are most disadvantaged suffer disproportionately from smoking.

He regrets his choice of words in the magazine article.

“People are very sensitive,” said Quinlan. “It’s complicated and it’s easy to be reactive. It’s my job not to trigger people’s reactions, but to get them to stay open and think. In that case, I failed.”


Some now say that Quinlan’s remarks sped up his exit as CEO. Quinlan says not true.

“That’s been in the works for about 18-months,” he said.

Quinlan apologized to his employees. He plans to continue calling attention to the hazards of smoking.


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