• July 24, 2024

BAT Still Committed to Smokeless Future

 BAT Still Committed to Smokeless Future
Josh Fett (Photo: BAT)

On World Vape Day (May 30), British American Tobacco outlined a strategic vision to accelerate progress toward building a smokeless world, especially for the Asia-Pacific region, to encourage adult smokers to switch to smokeless alternatives such as vapor products.

The smoking prevalence among adults in the Asia-Pacific region is amongst the highest in the world, though it continues to fall each year in some markets. However, with various governments setting goals to be “smoke-free” (defined as smoking prevalence falling to 5 percent or less), BAT says that more must be done to realize their ambitions.

In its vision, the multinational sets out four principles that it believes should be applied for effective and impactful regulation relating to smokeless tobacco and nicotine products:

  1. Access to consumer relevant products: regulations in all countries where cigarettes are sold should also allow a wide range of smokeless alternatives to ensure that consumers can access these alternatives and make informed choices about switching based on the best available scientific evidence.
  2. Adult-only consumer: the use and sale of smokeless tobacco and nicotine products by and to the underage should be prohibited by law.
  3. Product quality and safety: robust and properly enforced quality and safety standards should be at the heart of regulation, to protect consumers.
  4. Robust enforcement: Regulation should provide enforcement authorities with the necessary powers to apply penalties and sanctions to those who fail to comply with regulations, particularly those who supply non-compliant products and provide product to those who are underage.

“More than 1 billion people globally continue to smoke despite the serious risks,” the company wrote in a statement. “According to population modelling studies, a significant reduction in premature deaths could be achieved if smokers switched exclusively to reduced-risk alternatives.

“To capitalize on the public health potential offered by smokeless products, appropriate regulation is required to encourage adult smokers to switch, protect consumers with stringent safety standards and prevent underage access and use.”

BAT noted that countries that embraced this approach have witnessed significant reductions in smoking rates as smokers opt for noncombustible products. The multinational cited the experience of New Zealand, where daily smoking rates have plummeted to 6.8 percent in 2023 from 8.6 percent the previous year, and 16.4 percent in 2012. The U.K., U.S. and Japan too are reporting their lowest smoking rates on record, while Sweden is on track to declaring itself smokefree this year, 16 years ahead of the 2040 EU target.

According to BAT, the success of these nations in reducing cigarette consumption is largely a result of widespread awareness, availability and usage of smokeless alternatives, such as vapor products, heated products and nicotine pouches.

“The migration of smokers to these alternatives is crucial both for countries looking to reduce their smoking rates and for global public health more broadly,” said Josh Fett, BAT’s head of corporate and regulatory affairs in the Asia Pacific Region. “Whether or not governments are able to take advantage of these products and maximize their harm reduction potential depends as much on the implementation of progressive, risk-proportionate regulation as it does on changes in consumer behavior.”