Table 3

Timeline of BAT harm reduction discourse on BAT's corporate website (, based on archived webpages (dating from 1996–2012) available from

DateEmergence and key changes to harm reduction and snus rhetoric
1996–2000▸ Website owned by an unrelated non-tobacco company
May 2000▸ BAT set up website to ‘help you know us (BAT) a little better, and to balance the debate on issues that can be controversial’. ▸ Drop down main menu directs to BAT's views on smoking, marketing, corporate citizenship, environment, health and safety, and people. ▸ Claims that smoking as a cause of certain diseases is the ‘working hypothesis of much of our product modification research’.
May 2005▸ Press release on BAT's snus investments added, saying it aims to give ‘smokers the chance to enjoy a less harmful form of tobacco’ ▸ BAT also states it supports the lifting of the EU ban on snus sales, pointing at the ‘significantly lower health risks’ and arguing that marketing should be aimed only ‘at adults who have chosen to consume tobacco’
Aug 2007▸ Significant website restructure, with new main section on ‘health and science’. First time that ‘harm reduction’ and ‘smokeless tobacco and health’ are dedicated subcategories. ▸ BAT claims its investment in snus is ‘in line with our [BAT's] continuing efforts in harm reduction and a response to those public health stakeholders who told us they believe that snus, properly regulated, can contribute to reducing the health impact of tobacco use’.
March 2008▸ Harm reduction is now referred to as ‘a key element of our [BAT's] business strategy’. ▸ BAT's new website,, is promoted (‘written by scientists for scientists’), with a new external link to the IOM report added.
Oct 2010▸ BAT adds video ‘The Science of Harm Reduction’ to its website.
April 2011▸ BAT announces its establishment of Nicoventures, a stand-alone company which will focus on nicotine-only products, calling it ‘a natural extension’ of their ‘approach to tobacco harm reduction that has been developed over years’.
June 2011▸ BAT indicates it no longer runs snus test markets in South Africa, Canada and Japan, and only sells snus in Sweden and Norway.
March 2012▸ The ‘smokeless tobacco and health’ section has been moved away from the core part of the Health and Science part, to a drop-down menu on the left margin.
Dec 2012▸ BAT announces it has acquired an e-cigarette company and claims, as with Nicoventures, it's a natural extension of their approach to harm reduction.
  • BAT, British American Tobacco; IOM, Institute of Medicine.