British American Tobacco's new cannabis plan

British American Tobacco's new cannabis plan

How British American Tobacco plans to make cannabis key to its future as it moves away from selling cigarettes

  • British American Tobacco has a 19.9% stake in a Canadian medical cannabis firm
  • Scientists are trailing a new cannabis vaping product at a Manchester lab
  • The firm today announced it saw revenues jump by 8.1 per cent to £12.17 billion
  • BAT Chief Executive Jack Bowles said cannabis will feature in the firm’s future

Britain’s largest tobacco firm is planning to increase the size of its cannabis business as it continues to reduce its reliance on traditional cigarettes. 

British American Tobacco took almost a 20 per cent stake in Canadian medical cannabis maker Organigram in March. 

The firm has launched a trial of a pilot cannabis vaping project in Manchester. 

British American Tobacco is looking to reduce its reliance on cigarettes and instead sees its future with ‘tobacco heating systems’ vaping and cannabis 

In March, BAT took a 19.9 per cent stake a Canadian Medical Cannabis company

BAT CEO Jack Bowles, pictured, said cannabis will feature in the firm’s future as it moves away from selling cigarettes 

The company today announced its half-year results to June which saw revenues jump by 8.1 per cent to £12.17 billion. 

BAT boss Jack Bowles told the Today Programme on Radio 4: ‘As we think about our portfolio for the future, certainly beyond nicotine products are interesting for us as another wave of future growth.’ 

He said the company would continue to invest in new cannabis products. 

He continued: ‘I think [CBD vaping] is part of the future, but the present challenge is reduced harm in tobacco and nicotine alternatives, encouraging people to switch.’

More than a third of the firm’s UK income comes from vaping.  

BAT said its ‘new categories’ business, which includes products outside of traditional cigarettes, saw revenues increase 50 per cent to £942 million in the first half.

Mr Bowles added: ‘We are building strong, global brands of the future with Vuse, Velo and Glo.

‘These are underpinned by industry leading multi-category consumer insights and science, with increasing digitalisation.

So far, 19 US states have legalised the recreational use of cannabis

‘We have invested a further incremental £346 million in the first half, funded by continued value growth from combustibles and expect to reach our £1 billion savings target 12 months early.

‘Our rapid growth in new categories is driving significant scale benefits and 2021 is shaping up to be a pivotal year in our journey towards “A Better Tomorrow”.’

It comes a day after the World Health Organisation branded e-cigarettes as ‘harmful’ and called for better regulation to prevent young people from taking up vaping products.

Shares in the company were 0.1 per cent lower in early trading.

Prior to his re-election as Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has promised a commission on drugs featuring independent experts to discuss the issues, such as evidence on the harms of drugs, support services and prevention, the effectiveness of current laws as well as tackling the root causes of crime. 

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, pictured, is planning an independent commission on drugs strategy which could recommend the decriminalisation of cannabis 

Mr Khan said he could be open to recommending the decriminalisation of cannabis depending on the view of the independent commission. 

Several states in the US have either legalised or decriminalised the recreational use of cannabis or issued medical cannabis prescriptions. 

Last month, Governor Ned Lamont of Connecticut signed a bill making it the 19th state to legalise the recreational use of marijuana. 

However, the use of cannabis remains illegal under federal law. 

The new Connecticut law allows adults aged 21 or older to possess or own 1.5 ounces of ‘cannabis plant material’. 

They can store up to five ounces in a locked box at home or in the boot or glove box of their car or truck. 

In February, Police in Oregon were instructed not to arrest people with small amounts of drugs – including heroin, crystal meth and cocaine. 

Instead, people possessing a small stash would face a $100 fine or a health assessment. 

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