british american tobacco p.l.c. sustainability report 2010 - Germany’s stakeholder dialogue on tobacco harm reduction

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Sustainability Report 2010

British American Tobacco Germany has a long-standing programme of formal stakeholder dialogue, in line with the AA1000 Stakeholder Engagement Standard.

In 2010, the company held a stakeholder dialogue session to discuss the issue of tobacco harm reduction.

The dialogue was independently facilitated by a public figure from a German broadcaster and an independent record of the discussions was produced, the accuracy of which was assured by Ernst & Young.

This dialogue was held in response to a session in 2009 at which stakeholders requested that the company communicate more proactively and transparently on the issue of tobacco harm reduction. Effective communication needs the right conditions and the focus of the session was on what would be needed for a constructive debate on tobacco harm reduction in Germany.

Following a presentation on the Group’s approach to tobacco harm reduction, the stakeholders debated whether reducing the risk of tobacco products is actually a taboo topic for the public. The second half of the event was then devoted to a discussion of the conditions required for a responsible public discourse, from the viewpoint of different stakeholder groups.

The key message from participants was that while this subject is not taboo, there is a general lack of awareness of it among the wider German public.

The results of a representative survey that British American Tobacco Germany commissioned in 2010 confirmed this finding: of the 1,000 adults interviewed, nearly 80 per cent were not aware that the tobacco industry is actively carrying out research into reducing the risk of tobacco products. 70 per cent of respondents did not know that the health risks posed by existing tobacco products vary. However, when asked about the necessity for developing lower-risk tobacco products, the respondents considered appropriate actions by the tobacco industry to be important.

The main suggestions from participants were for British American Tobacco Germany to:

  • Make tobacco harm reduction the subject of a public debate, in the context of adult informed choice;
  • Clearly and openly set out its commercial interests in relation to the development of lower-risk products;
  • Strive to conduct any debate on reducing the risks associated with tobacco products on the basis of scientific principles;
  • Provide its consumers and the wider public with more information about options and developments in the area of tobacco harm reduction; and
  • Seek discussion with critics in the area of tobacco harm reduction and explore new approaches to dialogue.

As a result, the company plans to develop an action plan in 2011 for communication on this issue and for dialogue on the topic of tobacco harm reduction in which it will consider all stakeholder suggestions and, where feasible, translate them into concrete actions.

Related infomation


Stakeholder comment

In your position, I would say: Our business is to offer people nicotine in a form that is as contemporary as possible. There are millions of people out there who want to consume it.
Stakeholder in dialogue

Stakeholder comment

For me, the issue of risk reduction as it has been presented today is new. In the public perception, I have not yet encountered it.
Stakeholder in dialogue