Responsible with products
Our core business relates to the manufacture and sale of tobacco products. We recognise that millions of people around the world choose to use our tobacco products every day. In meeting this demand we understand that there is societal concern in a health context and that we have an important duty of care. We are also working to provide consumers with tobacco alternates particularly with vapour products.
We support our consumers and proactively tackle important issues such as the smuggling and counterfeiting of tobacco products. We work to protect the legitimate tobacco market, which helps to ensure that tobacco products are sold only to adults and that criminals do not profit through illicit trade.
Being responsible with products is about meeting consumer needs, in line with legislation and our duty of care.
Please see Our Views for more on important issues including addiction and quitting, potentially reduced exposure products, tobacco and health and why people smoke.
Product science is fundamental in our duty of care to the consumer. We have an Assessment, Guidance and Permissions (AGP) Group. Our experts are toxicologists and other qualified specialists. AGP approval must be sought and assessments made for all relevant materials prior to their use in manufacture.
Regular ingredients submissions including toxicological information are made to Competent Authorities based on the jurisdictions where products are sold.
Product science is governed by tobacco regulation that applies widely to product development, contents, manufacture, testing, data reporting, as well as other aspects; such as packaging, labelling, sale, distribution, display, marketing, advertising, taxation and restrictions on product use. In addition to regulation we apply our own high standards to address research and development, scientific assessment and regulatory submissions.
We undertake research programmes to improve our knowledge of tobacco and product consumption. We do not commission or conduct research involving animals and would do so only if required by governments or recognised authorities.
For more information on our scientific approach please visit our Scientific Website.
The global market for vapour products continues to evolve and there is growing consensus that these products may be a less harmful alternative than smoking tobacco.
E-cigarettes are the most common vapour products and we are represented in this category by blu, one of the world’s leading high quality vapour brands. The blu brand is managed by our non-tobacco subsidiary Fontem Ventures and has an established position in the USA and the UK and a growing international presence.
As well as building sales of blu, Fontem also continues to focus on developing advanced technologies to improve the consumer vaping experience, which is important for the future growth of the vaping category.
The regulation of vapour products continues to evolve. We believe a clear regulatory framework - that is proportionate to the public health potential of these products - to govern the way these products are made and sold is required, and we continue to engage with key stakeholders to support the development of effective legislation.
Illicit trade is fuelled by excessive regulation and excise increases. We are totally opposed to illicit trade. It deprives retailers of legitimate sales and governments of taxes. Counterfeit products are not made to the same high standards as legitimate products.
Organised criminal gangs also participate in illicit trade and use such activities to fund other activities to the detriment of civilised society. Criminals are also unlikely to respect laws such as those that prevent sales to minors.
We tackle illicit trade with dedicated security experts, working to gather and share anti-criminal intelligence, partnering with law enforcement and border control agencies, using track and trace technology and conducting forensic analysis. We work collaboratively within industry working groups and with governments through Memoranda of Understanding and co-operation agreements.
Our policy is to only supply our products to approved customers and markets. We work with customers to ensure that they are aware of our policy and their responsibilities to have control in their supply chain. To address supply chain integrity we strictly apply a ‘Know Your Customer and Contractor’ process.
For more information, view Imperial Tobacco’s interactive document Working together to tackle illicit trade.
In the majority of markets, legislation exists in relation to the advertising and promotion of tobacco products and to prevent the sale of tobacco products to minors. In addition to legislation, we have our own International Marketing Standard (IMS).
This sets out rules and principles to ensure that advertising and promotional activities are directed only to adult consumers. The IMS covers aspects such as style and content, health warnings, product placement, advertising media and sponsorship. Our standard applies to all countries and developing markets where regulation may be less stringent. We promote awareness through our advertising policy, IMS training and references in the Code of Conduct. This is supported by internal compliance.
We support youth access prevention programmes to help reinforce legislation, which exists in the majority of markets to prevent the sale of tobacco products to minors, and to help ensure retailers remain aware of our position to only support adult sales.
The majority of our campaigns focus on retailer training to enhance their confidence and age of sales awareness.
Whether an adult chooses to use tobacco or not we think that their choice should be respected. We recognise that smoking has the potential to impact peoples’ personal environments and, as with all non-smokers, children should be shown courtesy and respect.
Innovation, research and development is important to ensure that we continue to meet consumer needs for tobacco products and tobacco alternatives.
Product development in the traditional tobacco categories is predominately informed by consumer insights, evolving product features and manufacturing innovations. We are also working to simply our brands and products by driving a programme of portfolio optimisation. This is reducing unnecessary complexity and will better enable us to be more responsive to evolving consumer needs on a wider scale.
blu is our high quality vapour brand that is managed by our non-tobacco subsidiary Fontem Ventures, which is focused on developing new consumer experiences. Fontem is working to deliver in the vaping sector and is licensing a range of patented technologies.
Delivering products of the right quality is important to our customers and consumers. We apply the quality management standard ISO 90001 widely across our operations. Our manufacturing operations have quality rating methods, procedures and standards relating to finished and semi-finished goods to determine quality performance and drive improvement.
Non-tobacco materials are also subject to specific quality standards and test specifications. In addition we undertake technical benchmarks our products against competitors’ bands, apply spot checks and root cause analysis and undertake cross checks of central laboratories versus quality assurance in factories.
Consumer feedback and compliant management also provides us with useful information in terms of enhancing the quality of our products. We are working to improve our complaint handling and management to provide more centralised data originating from all markets across the group.