The public debate on tobacco is often distorted and one-sided. On this page we outline our views on the most important issues facing our business and our stakeholders.
Tobacco is controversial, but the way we do business is not. Millions of people around the world choose to enjoy our tobacco brands every day and we make sure that these brands are manufactured, marketed and sold responsibly.
Many smokers currently continue to choose to enjoy tobacco and we will keep providing them with the high quality products they expect. We recognise our important role in helping to reduce the harm caused by combustible tobacco, and are seeking to make a meaningful contribution to harm reduction by building a successful Next Generation Products business.
We manufacture and sell a range of high quality cigarettes and other tobacco products for millions of adult consumers worldwide.
People smoke for many and varied reasons. The cited pleasures of smoking include the distinctive taste and flavour of smoke. Smokers also smoke to relax or to aid concentration.
We believe that adults should have the freedom to smoke whilst being aware of the associated risks to their health. It is the role of governments to provide the public with clear and consistent messages about these risks. We do not challenge these messages and support reasonable regulation of tobacco products.
We believe that the decision to use tobacco products is a choice for adults. We do not want children to smoke or to use tobacco products. We support penalties for retailers who sell tobacco products to children.
Preventing children from using tobacco products is an issue for us and wider society. We play our part by not directing the marketing of our products to anyone under the age of 18, or higher minimum age where specified locally, or to non-smokers.
We adhere to regulation and our own stringent marketing standards. We also support governments and the retail trade with information to discourage the sale of tobacco products to children.
Smoking is a cause of serious diseases in smokers, including lung cancer, heart disease and emphysema. We agree that governments and public health authorities around the world should provide clear and consistent messages about the health risks of smoking. Adults should be guided by those messages when deciding whether or not to smoke. Children should never smoke.
Cigarette smoking is addictive and it can be very difficult to stop.
While some people may find it difficult to stop smoking, it is important they understand that they are able to stop if they choose to do so. Millions of people have stopped smoking, the majority without assistance.
To reduce the health risks of smoking, the best step to take is to stop smoking. For smokers who have decided to stop, information published by public health authorities is available.
Second hand smoke, also known as environmental tobacco smoke, or ETS, is the aged and diluted combination of a) the smoke that rises from the lit end of a cigarette and b) the smoke exhaled by the smoker.
Public health authorities around the world have concluded that second hand smoke is a cause of smoking-related diseases in non-smokers and we don’t challenge that message.
Most smokers understand people’s concerns about second hand smoke and are courteous when smoking around others and avoid smoking around children.
Many countries have banned smoking in public places, such as bars and restaurants, because of concerns about second hand smoke.
In our view this is a step too far, and one that has sadly led to the closure of many hospitality venues.
Smokers and non-smokers have happily existed side by side for centuries and there’s no reason why this can’t continue.
Instead of bans, we should be focusing on simple, practical solutions such as providing well-ventilated smoking and non-smoking areas
Countries like Germany, the Netherlands and Austria take this approach, accommodating smokers and nonsmokers and retaining an element of freedom and choice.
The problem with bans is that they lead to other bans. Alarmingly, a growing number of countries are now banning or regulating smoking in outdoor areas, private homes or private vehicles.
There is absolutely no justification for this. We don’t think it’s right that governments or regulators should attempt to control our private lives in this way.
All consumers have a responsibility to properly dispose of their litter, whether this is cigarette butts and product packaging, chewing gum, drinks’ cans, fast food containers or any other items.
We believe the best approach to tackling litter is for key stakeholders, such as tobacco companies, government, environmental bodies, business and local communities to work together to educate and change people’s behaviour.
We support local initiatives that seek to raise awareness and change behaviours and attitudes to littering.
We do not add anything to our products to make it more difficult for smokers to stop smoking, to make our products attractive to children or to increase the level or change the chemical form of nicotine in tobacco smoke.
Ingredients may be added to tobacco products during manufacture. Ingredients (for example, flavourings typically used in food) are used in very small quantities in some brands to enhance their overall flavour characteristics and aroma, giving brand variants their own distinctive style, in line with consumer preferences.
The term ‘ingredient’ also applies to substances in the non-tobacco materials that are used to make our products. These materials include the cigarette paper, the filter, the adhesive that seals the paper and the ink that colours the tipping.
Many governments regulate the ingredients which may be added to tobacco products and we comply fully with these regulations. Even in countries where no regulations exist, we make sure that we conform to similar standards.
We assess the appropriateness and acceptability of the ingredients we use. We employ a panel of experienced toxicologists to carry out risk assessments on ingredients and to judge the suitability of these ingredients for inclusion in our products.
We make regular submissions to governments’ competent authorities on the ingredients used in our tobacco products which are sold in their jurisdictions.
We do not commission or conduct research involving animals, and would not undertake such research unless formally required to do so by governments or by recognised regulatory authorities.
As a responsible manufacturer we continue to explore alternative products which offer adult consumers greater choice and have the potential to reduce the risks associated with smoking.
A growing number of regulators and public health bodies have concluded that vapour products are safer than conventional cigarettes and therefore have a role to play in reducing tobacco-related disease.
The regulation of vaping and other NGP is evolving and we continue to support the development of effective legislation. Good regulation ensures consumers have access to high quality products and information they can trust.
Due to their reduced risk potential relative to smoking, NGP should not be regulated and taxed as conventional cigarettes.
We market and sell our products responsibly.
We have updated our marketing standards to reflect developments in technology and our NGP portfolio. Our commitment to the responsible marketing and sale of our products is summarised by five Marketing Principles.
All Imperial Brands companies and employees, as well as agencies who work with us, adhere to our standards and local legislation. Where local legislation is stricter than our standards, this takes precedence, and where local legislation may be less stringent, then our own high standards take precedence.
We encourage governments and other relevant authorities to respect the principles of informed adult choice and commercial communication, and to allow consumers to receive information about the range of brands and products that are available to them.
We don’t seek to use genetically modified tobacco, as we don’t believe our consumers wish to buy products that contain genetically modified materials.
We take steps to ensure we don’t buy or use genetically modified tobacco. These steps include regular testing of the tobacco we purchase.
There is global demand for our products. We believe that demand is best met by responsible business where we apply high and internationally recognised standards, pay taxes, make other positive social contributions and respect the environment.
Many aspects of responsible business are inherent in any well-managed and leading business. We also understand that we have specific issues that need careful attention and are subject to high levels of scrutiny, and often legislation.
For us, operating responsibly is integral to everything we do. It supports our commercial strategy, gives stakeholders confidence and reinforces our position as an employer of choice.
It is the role of governments to provide the public with clear and consistent messages about the risks of smoking. We do not challenge these messages and support reasonable regulation of tobacco products.
However, we will continue to challenge disproportionate and unnecessary regulation that undermines the principle of adult choice. In our view, such regulation is designed to stigmatise smokers. We strongly believe that adult smokers should not be treated in this way.
We oppose illicit trade and are committed to proactively working with governments and other authorities worldwide to tackle smuggling and counterfeit activities.
Excessive tobacco tax increases and disproportionate regulation fuel the growth of illicit trade and we encourage governments and other authorities worldwide to recognise this.
Illicit trade benefits no one but the criminals involved and creates a market that is uncontrolled and unaccountable. As a result, children can more easily obtain tobacco products, governments are deprived of tax revenues and the livelihoods of independent tobacco retailers are threatened.
We apply stringent controls to our global network of distributors, and have a dedicated team of specialists who operate internationally in conjunction with governments and customs and excise authorities to disrupt the supply and sales of illicit product.
Our anti-illicit trade activity is largely directed against counterfeiting, which is a significant issue for a range of consumer industries. Our brands are manufactured to the highest standards and comply with all regulatory requirements. Counterfeit products do not comply with these requirements and deprive smokers of the quality and taste they associate with their favourite brands.
Retailers and consumers should only buy tobacco products from legitimate sources.
Since establishing our first R&D laboratory in the early 1950s, we’ve been at the forefront of tobacco research. In recent years we’ve increasingly focused on tobacco harm reduction through the development of Next Generation Products (NGP).
Our science and innovation teams uphold high standards, rigorously testing and analysing our products to continually build our knowledge base and meet our duty of care for consumers. Our partnerships with leading scientific organisations and commitment to internationally recognised NGP standards support our engagement with regulatory authorities.
We consider requests for funding and make some limited contributions in this area. We do not seek to influence the results or the publication of such research, and invite critique of our science through the process of peer-review in international scientific journals, as well as the regular presentation of our research at international conferences.
Some scientific researchers refuse to accept tobacco companies’ funding. This is a matter of regret as we believe the area continues to require the attention of independent, academic science. We firmly believe openness, transparency and collaboration enhance the scientific understanding of NGP and best serve our adult smoker consumers.