POTENTIALLY REDUCED HARM PRODUCTS
We are committed to making a meaningful contribution to harm reduction by offering adult smokers a range of potentially less harmful products.
We believe the world’s one billion adult smokers should be respected as active citizens, informed consumers and diverse individuals. We also think it is important to provide potentially healthier choices, in the form of NGP, that better satisfy the preferences of the consumer.
Our NGP categories include heated tobacco, vapes and tobacco-free oral nicotine pouches. Our own research suggests, as well as the broader scientific literature demonstrates, that all these product categories have the potential to be substantially less harmful than continued combustible cigarette smoking.
We’re building consumer and regulatory trust in our NGP by ensuring they’re underpinned by ongoing innovation, the highest quality and safety standards and rigorous scientific research and substantiation.
|Heated tobacco||No||Yes||Lungs||Selected markets in Europe|
|Vape||No||No||Lungs||USA, UK, France|
|Tobacco-free oral nicotine pouches||No||No||Gum membranes||Selected markets in Europe|
We understand society’s concerns about the health risks of smoking and recognise our role in helping to reduce the harm caused by combustible tobacco products.
Since establishing our first R&D laboratory in the early 1950s, we’ve been heavily involved in tobacco and nicotine research. In recent years we’ve increasingly focused on NGP development, enhancing our capabilities through external partnerships and recruitment from multiple industries.
Today we are a multi-category company, focused on meeting consumer needs and committed to making a meaningful contribution to tobacco harm reduction through our scientifically substantiated NGP portfolio.
As we seek to build a successful NGP business we will be driven by local consumer preferences, focusing investment on heated tobacco in Europe and on vapour in the US, the world's largest vape market.
Our science website explains the differences between each NGP category and our research studies to date.
We understand society’s concerns about the health risks of smoking and recognise the role we can play in helping to reduce the harm caused by combustible tobacco products.
We believe that our products should only be sold to and used by adult consumers and we communicate in a responsible manner with adults about our products.
We recognise that consumer health is the most important ESG priority for many of our stakeholders and, in order to realise our harm reduction ambitions, we need to build a successful NGP business. This is a key pillar of our new business strategy, and our market trials in heated tobacco and vapour are critical to establishing the right foundations. We will report progress on these trials in 2022, which will define our metrics for consumer health.
The undisputed best action that smokers can take to improve their health is through cessation of all tobacco and nicotine use. However, millions of adults still smoke despite decades of public health campaigns and the implementation of a wide range of tobacco control policies. With this in mind, transitioning adult smokers to other nicotine-containing products which are likely to be substantially less harmful than smoked tobacco is acknowledged by many as the next best option. Indeed, it’s this route to reducing the harmful impact of smoking tobacco that underpins the concept of the public health principle of tobacco harm reduction, or THR.
Central to THR is a recognition that not all nicotine-containing products are as harmful as smoked tobacco, and that alternative nicotine products are legitimate, harm reduced tools to help reduce smoking-related morbidity and mortality.
While no NGP is entirely risk-free, an increasing body of scientific evidence suggests they are all likely to be significantly less harmful relative to continued combustible cigarette smoking. This concept of relative risk is therefore crucial when determining the harm reduction potential of specific NGP as these products are designed for – and marketed towards – adult smokers only. Interact with our risk spectrum on our science website to find out more.
NGP have not been available long enough to generate epidemiological data, which looks at potential health impacts after decades of use, and more research in this area is certainly needed. However, the long-term health impacts of smoking tobacco are well known. For this reason, and based on the scientific evidence to date, it is clear that any potential long-term health risks associated with adult smokers transitioning to NGP – providing the products are manufactured to robust quality and safety standards – are highly likely to be considerably lower than continued smoking.
Leading authorities like the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are increasingly applying THR thinking and strategies to their public health objectives. In other countries including the UK, Canada, New Zealand and Japan, many regulators and public health bodies continue to voice their support for NGP and the positive role they can potentially play in improving global public health outcomes.
The Science Behind Our NGP
We substantiate the harm reduction potential of our NGP through our multi-stage, multi-year testing and research programme. This assessment is done for each NGP type compared to cigarettes to assess the relative risk. You can explore in more detail on our science website here.
We uphold high product quality standards, rigorously testing and analysing our products to continually build our knowledge base and meet our duty of care to consumers, as well as helping raise standards across the wider NGP landscape.
We refrain from testing our products on animals, and use cutting edge in-vitro technologies to test our products.
We believe openness, transparency and collaboration enhance the scientific understanding of NGP, and invite critique of our science through the process of peer review in international scientific journals, and the regular presentation of our research at international conferences.
Continued innovation, via our dedicated subsidiary Nerudia and select external partnerships, is equally vital when it comes to building regulatory and consumer trust around NGP.
Tobacco and NGP are for adult smokers only. We do not want youths to use any of our products and take youth access prevention (YAP) very seriously. We fully support YAP and minimum age restrictions for the sale or purchase of our products.
Preventing youths from using tobacco or recreational nicotine products is an issue for society as a whole to resolve. 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 are committed to the marketing and advertising of our products responsibly within the laws, codes of practice and voluntary agreements of those countries within which we operate. 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 NGP and conventional tobacco products is summarised by the following five Marketing Principles:
1. We only engage with adult consumers of tobacco and nicotine products.
2. Our marketing is honest and transparent.
3. We give our consumers the information they need to make informed choices.
4. We will never encourage people to start smoking or non-smokers to use recreational nicotine products, and never discourage consumers of our products from quitting.
5. We respect the local laws, codes of practice and voluntary agreements which govern the advertising, promotion and sale of our products.
We have a zero tolerance approach to breaches of our standards or local legislation. All Imperial companies and employees, as well as agencies who work with us, are expected to 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 aim to roll out an interactive training programme for employees and agencies in 2022. All our marketing materials are subject to legal review and approval.
We work with retailers to reinforce the message that tobacco and NGP are solely for adults, and encourage responsible selling. We support initiatives aimed at preventing the sale of our products to minors, including schemes that highlight the minimum age at the point of sale plus relevant training for our trade partners. In Germany for example, one of our most important markets, the Federal Association of Tobacco Industry and Novel Products (BVTE) and its member companies, including Imperial, advocate effective enforcement of the sales age of 18 for nicotine products. For more details read our case study.
In the USA the latest publicly available National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) data (2020), released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), demonstrate the impact of our focus on YAP. Only 13 of 14,531 respondents reported using blu vaping products at any point in the past 30 days (0.12 per cent of the population), and we believe our US YAP efforts provide a model for other responsible manufacturers to follow.