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Turning leaf to the finished product

Manufacturing tobacco products is a large-scale global operation and we have 44 factories in 42 countries. In addition to cigarettes, we make Fine Cut (roll-your-own and make-your-own) tobacco.

As well as tobacco leaf, we purchase a wide variety of other goods and services from suppliers all over the world. We promote continuous improvements among our suppliers in business practices, efficiency, quality, innovation and corporate responsibility.

Inside the factory

When processed tobacco leaf arrives at the factory, it is checked for quality and carefully blended with other tobacco and any ingredients that the brand recipe may call for, such as flavourings that balance the taste.

Keeping track of the various types of tobacco and blend components in use is a highly technical process and computers track production runs. Moisture content is also crucial. Too dry and the tobacco leaf will crumble; too moist and it may spoil during storage. The blended tobacco is treated with just the right amount of steam and water to make it supple and is then cut into the form used in cigarettes. Excess moisture is then removed so the cut tobacco can be given a final blending and quality check.

The technology has advanced dramatically over the years. Cigarette making, once done entirely by hand, is now almost fully automated, with the cut tobacco, cigarette paper and filters continuously fed into the cigarette-making machines. Quality is a top priority. Each cigarette is automatically quality controlled to ensure that it meets every aspect of its specification.

Packing machines put them into the familiar brand packs, wrap the packs in protective film and group them into cartons and cases. There is more testing at each stage to make sure the cigarettes are properly protected before the completed cases are ready for distribution.

Manufacturing changes

As a multinational business, we work to ensure that our costs are globally competitive and that we use our resources as effectively as possible. In recent years, our companies have had to take some significant and difficult decisions to reduce manufacturing overcapacity by closing some factories and downsizing others.

We fully recognise the personal impacts of these decisions and work hard to mitigate the outcomes for employees and the wider community. These changes are also enabling us to rationalise our machine technology to establish a more cost-effective operational base. Most machinery in factories being closed or downsized is transferred elsewhere. Machinery that cannot be redeployed within the Group is destroyed, not sold second hand. This ensures that it cannot fall into the hands of counterfeiters.

Manufacturing resource reduction

Our factories use more energy and resources than the rest of our direct operations. The main environmental impacts at our manufacturing sites are carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions, energy consumption, water use and waste. We have developed a global reduction plan for reducing the use of natural resources at our factories, which focuses on:

  • Assessment: to understand where and why resources are needed and how we dispose of waste;
  • Reduction: to reduce resource use and emissions in the medium and long term; and
  • Replacement: to investigate, develop and adopt alternative methods and technologies.

Read more in environmental management and supply chain management.

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