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Research and Development

Using science to increase our understanding

We have spent more than US$1 billion on research and development over the past three years – with a focus on products that could reduce the risk associated with smoking conventional cigarettes.

R&D is an important part of our business, and has been for 60 years.

In that time we have focused on understanding cigarette smoke chemistry, identifying its toxic constituents (known as toxicants), understanding smoking behaviour and trying to develop products with lower levels of toxicants in the smoke.

We are now developing and testing a next generation of potentially less risky alternatives to conventional cigarettes, including Vapour Products (e-cigarettes) and Tobacco Heating Products.

Our R&D Centre laboratories are based in the UK, in Southampton and Cambridge. The research we conduct also includes work undertaken in collaboration with external researchers in countries around the world.

Our commitment

It’s our job to demonstrate the positive effects our research can have. We place real value on robust, evidence-based and independent scientific findings and we think our science should be judged on its merits.

There are several myths around tobacco and nicotine products that only science can help to dispel. For example, as many members of the global scientific community now agree, it’s largely the toxicants in tobacco smoke which cause the majority of smoking-related disease – and not the nicotine in tobacco.

The challenges

We are working to develop less risky alternatives to conventional cigarettes and to secure the support of public health professionals and regulators as we bring them to market.

Tobacco companies, scientists and regulators need to work together to ensure a science-based approach to assessing new products that potentially pose less risk than conventional cigarettes. This will provide consumers with the assurance that the product information they receive is based on sound, evidence-based science and allow them to make an informed choice based on the risk profile of different products.

What are we doing?

We will always be transparent about our science. This is central to our approach. We publish details of our scientific research on www.bat-science.com  and the results of studies in peer-reviewed journals. We contribute to debates around tobacco harm reduction at conferences and in publications. We now also publish a regular Science and Technology Report with details of our R&D programme.

Science and Technology Report 2015

Animal testing

We prefer not to test our products on animals and currently do not do this routinely. We keep the subject under constant review with the long-term aim of being able to phase it out. We have invested for many years in the development and use of alternative tests.

Most of our product assessment relies on scientific literature, chemical analyses and biological tests based on cell cultures (‘in vitro’ tests). Most of our resource in this area has been and continues to be aimed at developing non-animal based in vitro tests within our research centres and with external research organisations. Where there is no recognised alternative, animal testing involving laboratory rodents may occasionally have to be done to meet legal and regulatory requirements or public health expectations, particularly in support of new, potentially reduced-risk products.

None of our laboratories has facilities for live animal work, so any that has to be done is contracted to external research organisations, licensed by government authorities.