Companies offer more reduced-risk products in high-medium income versus low-medium income countries.

In 2019, consumers in 20 of the 36 countries covered by the index had access to at least one reduced-risk product. However, manufacturers have focused their attention on high-medium income countries. In most low-medium income countries, reduced-risk products continue to be unavailable, which limits meaningful progress in tobacco harm reduction.

Several companies that sell high-risk products in both high-medium and low-medium income countries offer reduced-risk products, but have not always expanded them to the latter. Four companies – British American Tobacco Plc (BAT), Imperial Brands Plc (Imperial), Japan Tobacco Inc (JTI), and Philip Morris International Inc (PMI) – collectively offer high-risk tobacco products in more than 25 out of the 36 countries in the index scope, but their reduced-risk offer reaches around half of these countries, only three of which are low-medium income ones. Other companies such as Imperial, KT&G Corp (KT&G), and Swisher International Group Inc (Swisher International) currently focus their reduced-risk efforts in high-medium income countries only.

Companies have the opportunity to responsibly develop and offer reduced-risk products that are permitted for sale both in high and low-medium income countries.

A combination of policies, technology, and consumer preferences might affect companies’ decisions to expand their reduced-risk offer in low-medium income countries. However, these factors should not limit global tobacco harm reduction activities as other reduced-risk product categories can be offered. For example, BAT introduced non-tobacco nicotine pouches in Kenya and Pakistan in 2019.

Growing the geographic coverage of reduced-risk portfolios is critical to achieve tobacco harm reduction globally. All 36 countries in the index scope allow sales of at least one reduced-risk alternative. This suggests that companies have the opportunity to responsibly develop and offer reduced-risk products that are permitted for sale both in high and low-medium income countries.

For a complete list of sources and references, download the full Index Ranking report.

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