Participating in a balanced debate
We believe that as a responsible company we can contribute – through information, ideas and practical steps – to helping regulators address the key issues surrounding our products and our industry.
Like any other large business, we seek to be part of the debate that shapes the regulatory environment in which we operate. But some tobacco control organisations may present us as part of an all-powerful ‘Big Tobacco’ lobby that uses secretive measures to influence government and regulation. This is not the case. Truly effective regulation needs cooperation between governments and industry, and we have a legitimate role to play in policy-related debate that affects our business. By conducting all our engagement with politicians, policymakers and regulators transparently and with high regard for accuracy and integrity, we can make a valuable contribution to policy development and help enable the best information to be used as a foundation for decisions in policy-making.
We are committed to upholding high standards of integrity when engaging with external stakeholders, including regulators. This is governed by our Standards of Business Conduct and regulatory engagement by our businesses is monitored by our Regional Audit and CSR Committees (RACCs).
The Group does not make contributions to UK or EU political organisations or incur UK or EU political expenditure. Any political donations outside these jurisdictions must be authorised in advance by the Board of the company making them be fully documented in the company’s books and, if required by local law, be placed on the public record. Details must be notified in writing each year to the Group Head of Business Conduct and Compliance and reported annually to the Audit Committee.
For global regulatory priorities, the views we advocate are the same as those we publish on our website, and we have long supported the OECD’s Principles for Transparency and Integrity in Lobbying. We are open about what we think and when we disagree with proposed regulations, we try to put forward alternatives that can still achieve governments’ aims. We support regulation that is based on robust evidence and thorough research, respects legal rights and livelihoods and delivers on the intended policy aims, while recognising unintended consequences.
When tobacco control groups get in contact with us, we are always quick to respond. Recent examples include our responses to Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) who raised questions at our 2013, 2014 and 2015 Annual General Meetings. Please read our responses below: