A top exec at British American Tobacco (BAT) has said we need to move away from the “quit or die” approach to smoking and invest more in sustainable alternatives like vaping.
Speaking at an industry conference in Washington D.C., BAT’s chief growth officer Kingsley Wheaton called for greater collaboration between the industry and governments to focus on harm reduction rather than complete abstinence to smoking.
“To put it frankly, the old tobacco control approach of ‘quit or die’ is perhaps akin to the often quoted definition of insanity – “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” he said.
Indeed, he reckons we need to spend more time investing in better alternatives rather than telling people simply to pack it in.
According to the ONS, the UK saw a 4.3 percentage point decrease in daily smoking prevalence between 2014 and 2020. This was mirrored by a 2.4 percentage point rise in vapour product use.
As reported by City A.M. last month, data suggests that there are now five times as many vapers in the UK than there were in 2012.
In Japan, tobacco heating products were launched in 2014. Between 2016 and 2019, the number of smokers fell by 10 per cent.
In Sweden, the only EU Member State where the sale of snus is permitted, the rate of adult smoking is the lowest in the bloc at 6.4 per cent.
Wheaton said that although some countries had shifted towards the tobacco harm reduction principle, “globally, it stubbornly refuses to move fast enough”.
BAT has made a consistent effort to shift its portfolio away from traditional cigarettes, and towards alternatives.
“For around two decades of my 26 years with BAT, our revenues came, almost entirely, from a product that burns. Now, nearly one sixth comes from products that do not. As recently as 2015, when I started running our Next Generation Products business, it was zero,” Wheaton said.
BAT said that it remains on track to hit a target of £5bn of revenue and profitability from New Categories by 2025, as well as 50 million consumers of our non-combustible products by 2030.