BAT Urges Stricter Regulations for E-cigarettes in the UK

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BAT Urges Stricter Regulations for E-cigarettes in the UK
British enforcement officials raided a US candy shop in London, seizing illegal e-cigarettes, counterfeit phone cases, and banned candies.

According to Cityam, a British media outlet, law enforcement officers in London conducted a £55,000 raid on an American candy store in the West End, seizing a large quantity of illegal e-cigarettes, counterfeit designer phone cases, and candies containing additives that are banned in the UK.


British American Tobacco (BAT) is calling for increased taxation and regulation. In 2020, the company launched its "A Better Tomorrow" transformation plan, which revolves around the idea that the world is moving away from traditional cigarettes. The products replacing them vary by market, although they all have some connection to nicotine.


The "Tomorrow is a Better Day" Initiative aims to reduce the impact of BAT businesses on health by providing global consumers with lower-risk product options. In Japan, for example, the focus of the initiative is on promoting HNB tobacco products, which hold a 40% market share; while in markets like the UK, e-cigarettes and vaping devices are prioritized for promotion.


In other markets, smokeless and non-tobacco products are rapidly gaining market share, and BAT hopes to cover these markets in its diversified business lines. In the UK, BAT has stated that the government needs to go further than the current proposals. According to the new proposal, the government has stated that e-cigarettes will be subject to a consumer tax, potentially bringing in up to £1.2 billion in revenue during the 2026-2027 tax year. At the same time, the government has announced that disposable e-cigarettes will be banned in April next year, and shops in England and Wales will be fined £100 on the spot if they sell these products to those under 18.


However, research data presented by British American Tobacco shows that many people are hoping for regulations that can further protect and expand the market. According to this study, 90% of primary school parents are concerned about underage e-cigarette use. In a survey of 2,000 middle school parents conducted by the company, over half believe that shops not checking IDs is the main source of underage e-cigarette use. The company is calling for increased fines, in line with those proposed in France, with the most serious offenders facing fines of up to 100,000 euros. Additionally, the company is urging for an increase in consumption tax and excise duties on these products. BAT points out that increasing taxes will enhance government regulation and reduce the risk of illegal or illicit products entering the market.


In the end, BAT is advocating for stricter regulations in the hopes of increasing acceptance of e-cigarettes and other smoke-free products. The company's research shows that some smokers are hesitant to use e-cigarettes and vaporizers due to concerns about the risks of purchasing unregulated and illegal products. They believe this is damaging public health in the UK and hindering smokers from transitioning to a healthier lifestyle.


Asli Ertonguc, the head of British American Tobacco in the UK, stated, "We acknowledge that traditionally, companies like British American Tobacco have been perceived as anti-regulation. We recognize our responsibility and therefore welcome an open discussion on appropriate regulations to address the issue of underage e-cigarette use, while maintaining e-cigarettes as an important tool to help the UK achieve its smoke-free target by 2030, a goal supported by British American Tobacco." 


"E-cigarettes are key to achieving the UK's smoke-free target," Ertonguc said. "As the UK's largest e-cigarette manufacturer, we believe we have a narrow window to get it right on tobacco and e-cigarette legislation. Put simply, parents want us to do more to address the issue of underage e-cigarette use, and so do we."


In its 2023 annual report, British American Tobacco listed the "growth of illegal disposable vapor products" as one of the main growth risks. The company believes that the growth of these products could undermine its goal of achieving 50% of its revenue from non-combustible products by 2035, and could impact its international ambitions to reduce cigarette consumption.


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