As one of the largest companies within British American Tobacco, it’s fantastic to have the opportunity to make a significant contribution to the Group’s sustainability goals.
I’ve watched our approach develop over the last 10 years: from social responsibility as the right thing to do, to sustainability as a way of adding value to the business and society. In Australia, we’ve come a long way in embedding this approach within our company and through our supply chain. We’ve got a number of amazing sustainability initiatives in place, some of which you can read about in the following pages. And we continue to engage with our stakeholders on the issues that matter to them and to us.
2011 was a stimulating but challenging year for us, especially with the Government passing legislation requiring us to use plain packaging for tobacco products from late 2012. We have been engaging with the Government and other stakeholders on the issue, through a focused and transparent campaign. It’s been a seriously intense experience – from the press conference launch through to sitting alongside one of Australia’s leading constitutional lawyers in front of a Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee.
I am immensely proud of our campaign against plain packaging and, from the number of debates that were held in Parliament, I think it’s clear that our messages resonated with certain MPs and the public. Ultimately, we really did want to avoid going to court over this, but I really feel that now that the legislation has been passed, we’ve been left with little alternative. We have a right to our brands and a responsibility to defend them on behalf of our shareholders.
The support we received throughout our campaign from the regulatory centre of expertise back in London and the cross-functional teams across the business was really heartening. I think it’s a great example of how the joined-up, coordinated approach to regulatory engagement that we have across the Group really works. You can read more about plain packaging on our campaign website, www.plainpack.com .
What I’ve learnt in the years that I’ve been with British American Tobacco, is that we have great resilience – plain packaging is going to be a big challenge for us, but one that I believe we can rise to.David Crow, Managing Director, British American Tobacco Australia