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Does the UK Tobacco Industry Need More Progressive Regulation

Many companies within the tobacco industry make it extremely clear publicly about the dangers and harm caused by smoking. Whilst it is important that there is some form of control placed on the tobacco industry does there need to be a more progressive regulation?

Companies such as British American Tobacco (BAT) are constantly looking into aspects like tobacco control, tobacco harm reduction, investing in research and development, product development of e-cigarettes and also looking into alternative nicotine products. The company is spending £160m every year on improving new, safer products for consumers.

In the UK alone, 100,000 people die each year from smoking related issues. Tobacco companies argue that they make the harmful effects tobacco has on a persons health extremely clear however, at the end of the day they are a responsible business, a legal business selling a legitimate product and it is this reason they feel a more progressive regulation would be beneficial.

Major investments have been made to try and ensure a sustainable future for this industry and one where consumers have a choice over safer products. Tobacco companies are potentially profiting from products which are linked to the deaths of 6 million people in the world every single year.

Tobacco companies have no choice but to invest into other less harmful products. Whilst traditional cigarettes will remain their main source of profit for the time being but as technology improves and alternative nicotine products become available which are less harmful than traditional cigarettes and these will be offered as an alternative to give consumers a range of choice.

Professor John Britton, of the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, stated that Britains big tobacco companies remain the cause of the problem, rather than the solution, while smoked tobacco remains their greatest source of revenue.

Electronic cigarettes have a huge potential contribution to make in terms of helping people to quit smoking. This doesnt mean people quitting nicotine usage but rather people quitting certain products that are used to deliver the nicotine for alternatives which are less harmful.

The introduction of electronic cigarettes has wrong footed many tobacco companies and with this in mind many are now trying to get their food in the door of the electronic cigarette industry. To give credit to the British American Tobacco they have invested heavily into electronic cigarettes and other products however the argument is that they haven’t yet made it onto the UK Market.

They started the harm reduction journey in 2010, the only company in the UK to have two licensed applications with the MHRA. The reason that they are not on the market is because they require approval by the MHRA whilst they are lodged currently and BAT is working closely with the regulator they have yet to be approved. Until these are approved they cannot make it onto the UK Market.

Professor John Britton wants the cost of cigarettes to be increased by a substantial amount as he feels this would force a change in behaviour. Cigarettes are 30% more affordable than what they used to be in 1965 which is why tobacco companies continue to make such high profits.


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