Underpinning our approach to harm reduction is the clear need for continuous and sustained engagement. That is why we are talking to regulators and advocating possible regulatory initiatives for less harmful smokeless tobacco products and to the scientific community about a scientific framework for assessing candidate PREPs. We believe that active and sustained engagement is a critical factor in achieving success in these areas.
Engagement on smokeless tobacco products
Together with other members of the European Smokeless Tobacco Council (ESTOC) trade association, we submitted proposals to the European Commission for the regulation of smokeless tobacco products within the European Union. These recommended that future regulation should be science-based with product quality characteristics of principal importance.
Through ESTOC, we participated in a Tobacco Harm Reduction Symposium in Japan. There were discussions based on evidence from medical and epidemiological studies about the reduced-risk nature of smokeless tobacco products, particularly Swedish-style snus, with participants from the medical, public health and pharmacological fields.
At the conference of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT) in Texas, we presented the first results from our test market in South Africa on consumer perceptions of the risks associated with using snus when compared with the risks of cigarette smoking.
Engagement on combustible products
National governments who are parties to the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) have begun working on tobacco product regulation guidelines. In anticipation of the FCTC Conference of the Parties’ second major meeting in Bangkok (called COP2), we created documents to advocate our views. A document entitled ‘Harm reduction needs to be a key element of the FCTC tobacco Product Guideline’, was used to enable engagement with national governments in advance of COP2.
In 2007, we attended tobacco science conferences in the US, Latin America and Europe and gave poster presentations at several of these, including at the SRNT’s conference in Madrid. We will be giving poster presentations at a number of international medical and scientific conferences during 2008/09.
Harm reduction will continue to be an important element of our business strategy. Our snus test markets will continue in South Africa and Canada and we aim to grow share in Sweden and Norway.
Wherever possible, we will seek to collaborate with international research institutes and independent scientists and we welcome visitors to our research facilities. We will continue to attend scientific and public health conferences to present and discuss findings from our research, and will share these findings as well as learnings from our snus test markets in our engagement activities.
We will continue to progress our research into potentially reduced-risk products and share findings on our Research & Development website www.bat-science.com