Our International Marketing Principles

It's about being responsible. Wherever we do business around the world, our companies’ marketing is governed by our International Marketing Principles.

We believe in upholding high standards of corporate behaviour. We agree that the tobacco industry should be regulated, but we also think we should be able to communicate in a responsible way with adult tobacco consumers about our products, in order to grow market share.

Our International Marketing Principles provide a consistent and responsible approach to marketing across the Group. They replace our International Marketing Standards that were launched in 2001 and updated in 2007.

The Marketing Principles comprise four core principles which we believe are at the heart of responsible tobacco marketing. The rationale for each principle is explained and illustrated by a set of core standards, which show how they should be applied in our communications with consumers.

The core principles

Our four key marketing principles are:

  1. We will not mislead about the risks of smoking.
  2. We will only market our products to adult smokers.
  3. We will not seek to influence the consumer’s decision about whether or not to smoke, nor how much to smoke.
  4. It should always be clear to our consumers that our advertising originates from a tobacco company and that it is intended to promote the sale of our tobacco brands.

Our International Marketing Principles (472 kb) 

The Marketing Principles apply to the marketing of all British American Tobacco’s combustible tobacco products.

Monitoring adherence

We monitor compliance to our International Marketing  Principles (and previously to our old International Marketing Standards) through market audits and annual self-assessments and any incidents of non-adherence are reported to our regional audit and CSR Committees and to the Board CSR Committee.

We welcome information from anybody who believes that any of our companies are not living up to the Principles. You are welcome to send any concerns through Contact us.

Youth smoking prevention

Our marketing is aimed only at adult smokers and is not designed to engage or appeal to the youth sector. Our global approach to youth smoking prevention focuses on engagement with governments to adopt minimum age laws of 18 for tobacco sales where none exist and, where they do, to effectively enforce them.

We’ve worked with authorities, explaining why a minimum age law of 18 is so important, and also with retailers, to raise awareness of underage smoking and why simple things like asking for proof of age can make such a difference.

A global programme to prevent youth smoking exists in 98% of our markets * and we’re committed to making this 100%.

*Youth smoking prevention programmes are not required in markets where political instability or regulation stops our activities, or where we only operate through a distributor. In 2013, this was the case for markets representing 15% of our total sales volumes.

Local laws

The International Marketing Principles are our minimum standard and will be applied even when they are stricter than local laws. However, if local laws or other voluntary codes in markets are stricter than or override our Marketing Principles, then we will abide by those laws or voluntary codes.

Where local laws are less strict we promote higher standards generally, as well as a level competitive playing field, and ask governments to embody our Principles or similar provisions into local law.