Marketing our products responsibly

Our International Marketing Principles

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

We agree that our 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

At BAT, we have International Marketing Principles which provide detailed guidance on all aspects of our marketing of our conventional combustible tobacco products and our potentially reduced-risk products, from print, billboards and electronic media to promotional events, packaging and sponsorship.

As part of our ambition to transform tobacco for our consumers, our business and our shareholders, we have expanded our portfolio in recent years to include, in addition to conventional combustible tobacco products, a range of potentially reduced-risk products (PRRPs), including vapour, tobacco heating products and oral tobacco.

To reflect this multi-category approach, we updated our International Marketing Principles in October 2018 to apply across all our products, not just conventional combustible tobacco products as they had done previously. The new principles replace our previous International Marketing Principles, Vapour Products Marketing Principles and Snus Marketing Standards.

Our three key marketing principles are:

  1. Our marketing will be responsible, accurate and not misleading
  2. Our marketing will be directed at adult consumers
  3. Our marketing will make clear that it originates from British American Tobacco and that it is intended to promote the sale of our brands.

International Marketing Principles (49 kb) 

Given that PRRPs have the potential to deliver reduced risks compared with conventional combustible tobacco products, we believe that they should be afforded greater marketing freedoms, so long as the content is accurate, responsible and not misleading. As with our marketing of conventional combustible tobacco products, our marketing of PRRPs will always be directed at adults and will never target youth. 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 International Marketing Principles, then we will abide by those laws or voluntary codes.

Monitoring adherence

We are committed to 100% IMP compliance worldwide. All our marketing materials have to be formally reviewed and approved by our Legal and External Affairs function and we provide training to our marketing employees and trade representatives, as well as any external agencies we work with, to ensure they are effectively applied.

In 2017, no incidents of IMP non-compliance were identified through our internal procedures. There were, however, two external allegations made about our marketing practices in relation to local tobacco control and advertising laws. We conducted detailed investigations and found no evidence of any wrongdoing. Where any instances of non-compliance are identified, immediate action plans are put in place to address them.

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 access prevention

We are very clear that our marketing is aimed only at adult consumers of our products and is not designed to engage or appeal to youth. Our global approach to youth access prevention to our products 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 also work directly with retailers, to raise awareness of underage smoking and demonstrate why simple things like asking for proof of age can make such a difference in helping to uphold minimum age laws.

We also support distributors by providing them with training and point-of-sale materials for use by retailers.

In 2017, we strengthened our approach further by developing new Youth Access Prevention Guidelines for our operations worldwide to cover different product categories – from conventional cigarettes to vapour products and tobacco heating products.