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BAT calls for progressive regulation to achieve a smoke-free Kenya

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Tobacco kills over 8 million people every year.
Tobacco kills over 8 million people every year.

To mark World Vape Day Thursday and subsequently the World no Tobacco Day on 31st May, BAT Kenya is calling for the implementation of sustainable regulation for smokeless nicotine and tobacco products, to achieve a smoke-free Kenya.

More than 1 billion people globally continue to smoke despite the serious risks. According to population modelling studies, a significant reduction in smoking related disease could be achieved if smokers switched exclusively to reduced-risk* alternatives.

To realise the public health potential offered by smokeless products, appropriate regulation is required to encourage adult smokers to switch and protect consumers from inauthentic products, with stringent safety standards and prevent underage access and use.

BAT believes that these four principles should be applied for effective and impactful regulation relating to smokeless nicotine and tobacco products:

  1. Access to consumer relevant products: regulations in all countries where cigarettes are sold, should also cater to a wide range of smokeless alternatives to ensure that consumers can access them and make informed choices about switching based on the best available scientific evidence.
  2. Adult-only Consumer: the use and sale of smokeless nicotine and tobacco products by and to the underage should be prohibited by law.
  3. Product Quality and Safety: robust and properly enforced quality and safety standards should be at the heart of regulation, to protect consumers.
  4. Robust Enforcement: Regulation should provide enforcement authorities with the necessary powers to apply penalties and sanctions to those who fail to comply with regulations, particularly those who supply non-compliant products or provide product to those who are underage.

Tashanya Okola, Head of External Affairs for BAT Kenya and East & Southern Africa Markets, said:

“Smokeless alternatives to cigarettes, including vapour products and nicotine pouches, are key to supporting the Government’s public health agenda. We are clear on our responsibilities, and therefore want to have transparent conversations about appropriate regulation that will tackle underage use while keeping smokeless alternatives like vapes and nicotine pouches as a vital tool to help adult smokers switch.”

“The migration of smokers to these alternatives is crucial both for countries looking to reduce their smoking rates and for global public health more broadly. Whether or not governments are able to take advantage of these products and maximise their harm reduction potential depends as much on the implementation of progressive, risk-proportionate regulation, as it does on changes in consumer behavior,” said Ms Okola.

Countries that have implemented regulation that recognises the harm reduction potential of smokeless products and support their use for adult smokers have experience a rapid decline in smoking.

The UK, US and Japan are all reporting their lowest smoking rates on record, while Sweden is on track to declaring itself smoke-free this year, 16 years ahead of the 2040 EU target. This is largely a result of widespread awareness, availability and usage of smokeless alternatives, such as vapour products, heated products and nicotine pouches.

“There are widespread misconceptions about the risk of smokeless products compared to smoking.  This discourages many smokers who don’t quit smoking from switching. The science is clear: well-stewarded smokeless tobacco and nicotine products have a considerably lower-risk profile than smoking. It is the toxicants released by the burning of tobacco that cause the harm associated with smoking,” added Ms Okola.

Further, BAT publicly re-affirms its position that no underage persons should use nicotine products.

“BAT has strict guidelines to prevent sales to underage, and research guidelines which clearly mandate that market research is only conducted on adult nicotine consumers. Measures include prominent 18+ age restriction warnings on our product packaging, alongside various efforts to enforce robust guideline with the traders to prevent underage access, such as training and mystery shopping.”

BAT’s purpose is to create A Better Tomorrow by building A Smokeless World.

This commitment is demonstrated in various ways, including the BAT Group’s investment of more than Ksh 50 billion a year in the development of smokeless nicotine and tobacco products.

These products are sold in 75+ markets globally including Kenya, where the Company rolled out its tobacco-free oral nicotine product in 2022.

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