Open Letter to the Shareholders of Imperial Brands

6 February 2018:

Dear Shareholders,

As you gather to celebrate your profits, your customers outside the UK continue to pay a heavy price. Your ninth consecutive year of dividend growth and priority to ensure sustainable growth translates to increased cigarette sales. This has a devastating impact on the health and lives of your customers, especially in poor countries such as Lao PDR, where Imperial brands dominate 62% of the cigarette market and more than 6,200 Lao people lose their lives from tobacco-related diseases annually.

More importantly, we draw attention to the failure of Imperial Brands subsidiary, Lao Tobacco Ltd (LTL) to comply with the pictorial health warning law.

The Lao government issued a tobacco control regulation in May 2016 requiring pictorial health warnings to cover 75% of cigarette packs. Despite requesting and receiving 3 extensions (a total of 19 months) till 1 January 2018, LTL failed to comply with the the law as evidenced by Imperial brand packs displayed in the Lao market which remain to be lacking the legally mandated 75% health warnings on packs. The Lao government’s efforts to reduce tobacco use by warning its people of the harms of smoking have been jeopardized.

Photo:Taken on 10 January in Vientiane – A Deng brand with no pictorial warning, selling at LAK3,000 (£0.25) Photo: A Deng pack purchased on 18 January 2018 in Vientiane with no pictorial health warning

LTL’s top selling brand in Laos, A Deng, costs just £0.25 (LAK 3,000) for a soft pack and £0.68 (LAK 8,000) for a hard pack. Low-priced cigarettes target and profit from the youth and the poor of Laos where about 73,000 adolescent boys and half of all men smoke.  

As shareholders, do cast your votes and reconsider your investments in a manner that ensures that laws are complied with and the Lao people and government are not unduly disadvantaged.  At the minimum, Imperial Brands PLC must comply with the Lao law which require 75% pictorial health warnings on cigarette packs.

Thank you for your attention

Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA)

 

About SEATCA:

SEATCA is a multi-sectoral non-governmental alliance promoting health and saving lives by assisting ASEAN countries to accelerate and effectively implement evidence-based tobacco control measures contained in the WHO FCTC. Acknowledged by governments, academic institutions, and civil society for its advancement of tobacco control movements in Southeast Asia, the WHO bestowed on SEATCA the World No Tobacco Day Award in 2004 and the WHO Director-General’s Special Recognition Award in 2014.