bat sustainability report 2007 - Vision for sustainability

What do we mean by sustainability?

Sustainability means different things to different people.

One of the most common definitions is found in the 1987 Brundtland Commission report which defined sustainable development as ‘meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’.

For others, it means commercial sustainability and the ability of a business to generate continued long-term profit growth.

Our approach to building a sustainable business aims to combine the two. This means addressing key business-related social, environmental and economic impacts in a way that builds value for all our stakeholders, including our shareholders. We believe this will result in improved sustainability.

"You need two or three topics to really focus on. Our experience is that you will get lost in a long list, you will never end up with economic and material impacts. Two or three [priorities] will help define business issues"

Business partner in dialogue

Can a tobacco company be sustainable?

Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes

In 2007, we were, for the sixth year running, the only tobacco company included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes. These indexes track the economic, environmental and social performance of leading companies and examine how well they integrate sustainability into their businesses. In 2007, our overall score increased from 79 per cent to 83 per cent.

Some people question whether a tobacco company can be sustainable. We believe that striving to bring reduced risk products to our consumers and our commitment to selling our existing products in a responsible manner are a valid response.

We have a responsibility to our consumers to strive to develop and introduce potentially reduced risk products. We undertake research, development and test marketing to identify new tobacco products which are acceptable to consumers and may be recognised by scientific and regulatory authorities and public health communities as posing potentially reduced risks to health.

We understand that our sustainability agenda must also address the key issues of concern around our business operations, as well as the issues related to the nature of our products. Therefore, our sustainability agenda also considers the key social, environmental and economic impacts in our supply chain, limiting and reducing our environmental impacts and building and sustaining the employee culture necessary to deliver our objectives.

Our five key goals

Based on stakeholder feedback, we have developed five key goals that we believe reflect our most pressing sustainability issues:

You can read about our targets and performance relating to these key goals in our Sustainability issues section.

We welcome feedback on our sustainability agenda or on any aspect of this Report. You can email

© 2008 British American Tobacco