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Marketing our products responsibly

Our International Marketing Principles

A fundamental requirement of our marketing principles is that our marketing is aimed only at adult smokers and is not designed to engage or appeal to children.

We agree that the tobacco industry should be regulated, but we also think we should be able to communicate in a responsible way with adult consumers about our tobacco and nicotine products.

For a business like ours, it is imperative that we provide clear and meaningful information about the different risk profiles of our products to help consumers make informed choices.

Ensuring we market our products responsibly to adult consumers only is also key.

Our core marketing principles for tobacco products

For tobacco products, which pose such serious health risks, our marketing is governed by our International Marketing Principles wherever they are sold around the world, often going beyond local legal requirements.

The International Marketing Principles comprise four core principles which we believe are at the heart of responsible tobacco marketing. The rationale for each principle is explained and illustrated by a set of core standards, which show how they should be applied in our communications with consumers.

Our four key marketing principles are:

  1. We will not mislead about the risks of smoking.
  2. We will only market our products to adult smokers.
  3. We will not seek to influence the consumer’s decision about whether or not to smoke, nor how much to smoke.
  4. It should always be clear to our consumers that our advertising originates from a tobacco company and that it is intended to promote the sale of our tobacco brands. 

International Marketing Principles (472 kb) 

The Marketing Principles apply to the marketing of all British American Tobacco’s combustible tobacco products.

Local laws

The International Marketing Principles are our minimum standard and will be applied even when they are stricter than local laws. However, if local laws or other voluntary codes in markets are stricter than or override our Marketing Principles, then we will abide by those laws or voluntary codes.

Where local laws are less strict we promote higher standards generally, as well as a level competitive playing field, and ask governments to embody our Principles or similar provisions into local law.

Monitoring adherence

We monitor compliance to our International Marketing Principles through market audits and annual self-assessments and any incidents of non-adherence are reported to our Regional Audit and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Committees (RACCs) and up to 28 April 2016 were also reported to the Board CSR Committee*.

In 2015, two incidents of non-adherence to our International Marketing Principles were reported (2014: 3) through market audits. Immediate actions were taken for each of these incidents as part of our commitment to 100% compliance.

We welcome information from anybody who believes that any of our companies are not living up to the Principles. You are welcome to send any concerns through Contact us.

Youth smoking prevention

Our marketing is aimed only at adult smokers and is not designed to engage or appeal to youth. Our global approach to youth smoking prevention focuses on engagement with governments to adopt minimum age laws of 18 for tobacco sales where none exist and, where they do, to effectively enforce them.

We’ve worked with authorities, explaining why a minimum age law of 18 is so important, and also with retailers, to raise awareness of underage smoking and why simple things like asking for proof of age can make such a difference.

We are committed to carry out youth smoking prevention activities in all of our markets where feasible and permitted.

Sometimes we are unable to carry out this work, such as in countries where there is political instability, where we only operate through a distributor, or where we are prevented from doing so by local legislation.

In 2015, youth smoking prevention activities took place in all of our markets where this activity is feasible and allowed. These activities can include lobbying for minimum age laws of 18 where none exist, and working with more than two million retailers worldwide to raise awareness of existing laws, providing training and advice on checking IDs, and supplying in-store posters and other materials.

You can view our marketplace performance charts  in our sustainability data centre.

Vapour Products: upholding high standards

With all our Vapour Products (e-cigarettes), we have voluntarily adopted appropriate warnings on all our packaging and a robust approach to manufacturing quality and product assessment, including for all ingredients and flavours.

Our Vapour Products Marketing Principles provide a responsible and consistent approach to all of our marketing activities for this important category

Our four core principles are:

  • We will target our Vapour Product marketing at adults
  • We will market our Vapour Products to smokers and consumers of vapour and nicotine products
  • We will be clear and factual about our Vapour Products and their potential risks
  • We will not promote combustible tobacco products through our Vapour Product marketing

Vapour Products Marketing Principles (212 kb) 

How is it different for Swedish snus?

Snus is finely-ground moist tobacco that comes either loose or in tiny pouches, which are placed under the upper lip. It contains nicotine in similar quantities to cigarettes.

We believe there is sufficient scientific evidence to support a less restrictive regime for snus, on the basis of its potentially lower health risk when compared to cigarettes. A separate set of marketing standards have been introduced specifically for snus.

Our Snus Marketing Standards (69 kb)

We continue to seek dialogue with regulators and health authorities about how the attributes of potentially less harmful products might be communicated to consumers.

* To improve alignment with the Group’s existing corporate governance framework at a regional level, and to further enhance reporting and reduce duplication, a review of the Company’s Board Committees resulted in the removal of the Company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Committee, with effect from 28 April 2016. The matters reserved for the CSR Committee will be absorbed by the Board and the Audit Committee, as appropriate.