British American Tobacco plans to introduce its heat-not-burn products

British American Tobacco Malaysia managing director Erik Stoel.

KUALA LUMPUR: British American Tobacco Malaysia (BAT) says it plans to introduce its heat-not-burn (HNB) smoking products in the market pending price approval from the authorities.

At a press conference after BAT’s annual general meeting, the company’s managing director Erik Stoel said it wanted to introduce the potentially harm-reducing product here to meet consumer needs.

Globally, he said, BAT has its own HNB products called Glo and that in Malaysia it was fully ready to roll out the product.

But he said BAT was only waiting for the price approval from the Tobacco Control Unit and the health deputy director general (public health).

“In December, we submitted it for the price approval but for some reason we have not received an answer yet.

“We are pushing very hard for it.”

Currently, only Philip Morris International’s HNB products under the IQOS brand are being allowed in the market after being introduced last year.

Stoel said Malaysia was the first market where, under the same laws, IQOS was in the market and BAT’s Glo was not.

On Putrajaya’s proposed tobacco control act, Stoel said regulations were good so long as they were sensible, ensured a level playing field for all and saw stakeholders being consulted.

On how the law may affect the selling price of HNB products, Stoel said the excise duties for this category, which were modified last year, made sense.

He said the rate reflected the nature of the product and practices in other markets.

“In the new act, we don’t know if (excise) is involved. Normally, it is not part of a tobacco control act as excise rates related to this product are defined by the finance ministry.

“So, we see it as separate. We think the government has made the right call by classifying the excise rate for these products below that for traditional cigarettes.”

There have been calls for Putrajaya to treat HNB products as cigarettes and subject to the same regulations which govern tobacco products, including compliance with requirements for graphic and text health warnings and packaging size.

The Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control has called for HNB products to be banned as they might be more accessible and attractive to youth, owing to the cheaper price of refills, smaller packaging and being less detectable as they produce less smoke.