BAT Malaysia promotes harm reduction in sustainability agenda

By ASILA JALIL / TMR FILE PIX

BRITISH American Tobacco (Malaysia) Bhd (BAT) is open to working with Putrajaya in supporting the establishment of appropriate regulations for nicotine vapour products, in line with its sustainability agenda that focuses on providing tobacco harm-reduced products. 

Its legal and external affairs director Nick Booth said the company is focused on providing consumers with less risky alternatives to ensure harm reduction and reduce the health impact of its business. 

“At the moment, nicotine vaping is illegal to sell based on the regulations in Malaysia. We would like to work with the government to ensure there is a regulated marketplace for these products. 

“Currently, there are over one million Malaysians vaping products of unknown quality and standards. If the government wants to put in place a regulatory regime, we would support them by offering these tobacco harm-reduced products to consumers in Malaysia,” he said during a virtual media briefing yesterday. 

The company has unveiled its sustainability strategy dubbed as “A Better Tomorrow” which has four key pillars that cover harm reduction, environment, social and governance. 

Booth said the company is engaging with the government on a number of elements including tobacco black market and vaping, among others, and it is always “keen” to enter discussions on the matter.

“We cannot really move all these until the regulatory environment changes. We are on standby to help in any way we can.

“We have similar experience in other countries with regulatory regimes in place for nicotine vapour. We will not be entering a market where these products are illegal for sale,” he said.

From the environmental aspect, the company is increasing the use of renewable energy to 30% and pushing to achieve carbon neutrality in its operations by 2025. 

This will be achieved through the deployment of solar energy at its factory in Johor Baru, warehouse and distribution offices nationwide and deployment of hybrid vehicles. 

BAT is also accelerating its reduction of waste generated by 15%, recycling at least 95% of waste generated and ensuring zero waste to landfill from its operation sites. 

Booth said the company plans on eliminating single-use plastics and ensure 100% of its plastics packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable. 

On the social front, the company is accelerating its diversity and inclusion agenda by creating a workplace for everyone which includes its efforts to ensure fair and equal representation of women and different nationalities in the management and leadership roles within the company. 

Booth said BAT will increase the proportion of women in senior teams to 40%, in management roles to 45% and achieve at least 50% spread of distinct nationalities in the leadership team. All of these will also be done by 2025. 

BAT is also reviewing its community investment programmes and aims to empower underprivileged communities for shared prosperity and positive impact. 

“With our ‘A Better Tomorrow’ purpose, we are transitioning from being a business where sustainability has always been important, to one where it is front and centre in everything that we do. 

“We will work to reduce the health impact of our business and at the same time champion environmental, social and governance excellence. Together, we believe this will drive the company’s long-term business sustainability and create shared value for consumers, society, employees and our shareholders,” added Booth. 

Meanwhile, Malaysia’s illicit cigarette market is estimated to account for more than half of the total market, resulting in a revenue loss for the government, and is partly a result of the high prices of tobacco products in the country. 

Bangi MP Dr Ong Kian Ming said the large volume of illicit cigarettes are mostly brought into the country through smuggling and the current pricing approach by the government is not well-conceived.