BAT plots ‘reduced harm’ European tobacco assault

British American Tobacco is to trial a new “reduced harm” smokeless tobacco product under its Lucky Strike and Peter Stuyvesant brands.

BAT will test-market a form of tobacco known as snus, which originates in Sweden and consists of small sachets of tobacco that are placed under the lip. Snus is more popular than cigarettes among Swedish men.

The year-long market trial, to be announced this week, will take place in Stockholm, where the company hopes to use its brands to obtain a significant market share; and in South Africa, where snus is virtually unknown but the Peter Stuyvesant brand fairly well established.

The company says snus is reported to be less harmful than other forms of tobacco and contains significantly lower levels of potentially carcinogenic chemicals than other tobacco products, although it admits that all tobacco carries health risks.

Last year, chief executive Paul Adams told analysts BAT had earmarked the European Union as a potential market for snus. “We think we have some brands that would relate well to snus. I think we will wait and see what happens in the EU, because that’s really where the big market opportunity would arise,” he said.

BAT marketing director Jimmi Rembiszewski says: “Launching smokeless variants of two leading brands underlines our commitment to the trials’ success.”

Although EU regulations mean that snus is banned in member countries other than Sweden, which negotiated an exemption when it joined the union in 1995, BAT wants the rule overturned on the grounds that snus is apparently less harmful than cigarettes.

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