The release of the Deloitte Top 200 last week highlighted the tenacity of multinational tobacco company British American Tobacco Holdings in the face of the significant decline in smoking rates in Aotearoa since the introduction of Smokefree 2025. The Return on Assets (ROA) indicator saw British American Tobacco rise from 22.8 per cent in 2015 to 54.7 per cent in 2016, as reported in the New Zealand Herald. ROA measures a company's profits against total assets reported and is a measure of how efficiently a company uses its assets to generate earnings.
As the national tobacco control advocacy service Hāpai Te Hauora cautions the public health sector to remain vigilant in progressing Smokefree 2025 against the influence of companies such as British American Tobacco Holdings. Lance Norman CEO of Hāpai Te Hauora says these results show the tobacco industry is far from defeated "The increase in ROA reported in this financial year for British American Tobacco Holdings paints a picture of a company which remains attractive to investors and therefore still a very real risk in terms of being a highly resourced opponent of public health. It reminds us that these are multi-national corporations with very deep pockets and nobody's interests but their own at heart".
General Manager National Tobacco Control Advocacy Service at Hāpai Te Hauora says this is further evidence that tobacco industry resistance to plain packaging and other tobacco harm reduction interventions on the basis of financial harm is disingenuous. "It is clear from this report that the tobacco industry is in worryingly good health, despite continuing to manufacture, supply and promote products which kill their customers. Hāpai Te Hauora's recent concern over British American Tobacco Holdings’ attempt to corner the market for safer nicotine delivery devices is justified in light of these results - this is clearly a company who should not profit from a health intervention product while they continue to harm their customers through other product lines".