Harm reduction should form basis of progressive regulation, says BAT

| May 29, 2014

British American Tobacco is calling on the World Health Organization and governments around the world to adopt a policy of tobacco harm reduction as a more progressive approach to tobacco regulation, according to a note posted on the company’s website.

In support of its call, BAT quoted WHO estimates that suggest there are now one billion smokers across the globe and that by 2050 this number could increase to 2.2 billion.

“For governments seeking to reduce tobacco use, we believe it’s time for new, more progressive approaches to be considered,” said Kingsley Wheaton, director of corporate and regulatory affairs. “One such solution is to offer adult smokers a choice of substantially less risky products such as e-cigarettes.

“This approach is what many refer to as ‘tobacco harm reduction.’ However, for this to work, governments and the public health community need to embrace this concept and the products that support it.”

BAT seems to have spoken out at least partly because recent media reports have suggested that less risky nicotine products such as e-cigarettes could be classified as tobacco products by the WHO. Such a classification could prompt governments eventually to subject e-cigarettes to hefty excise duty, public smoking bans and severe marketing restrictions, all of which would hamper their growth and development.

“If e-cigarettes are classified as tobacco products, then the associated regulatory hurdles will mean smokers will find it harder to access less risky alternatives—this can only be a bad thing for public health,” said Wheaton.

“We hope the arguments being made by the scientific community, the industry and public health campaigners will demonstrate the need for policy makers to carefully consider the benefits of tobacco harm reduction and give it their full support.”

BAT said it invested about £170 million a year in research and development that was enabling it to develop an expanding range of alternative tobacco and nicotine products, and that had allowed it to launch its first e-cigarette, Vype.

“We believe we can and should be a part of this debate and possible solutions, given our knowledge of consumers and our global reach,” said Wheaton.

“Tobacco harm reduction provides a progressive public health policy direction. We welcome the opportunity to collaborate on making this policy a global reality.”

Category: Breaking News

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