One of the world’s biggest tobacco firms is looking at introducing CBD (cannabidiol) and cannabis flavourings in their products as smokers turn away from traditional tobacco.
British American Tobacco (BAT), which sells Dunhill, Lucky Strike and Benson & Hedges, has come under pressure to win over more vape fans as cigarette sales dwindle.
The boss of the firm’s Southampton research facility, which leads its development of non-cigarette products, has told the PA news agency it is “evaluating” the science and regulations of potentially using CBD and cannabis flavourings.
Allen Griffiths, head of reduced risk substantiation at BAT, told PA it was monitoring opportunities to use CBD in its products, but stressed it was not yet “actively pursuing” the usage for its new product launches.
“It is only right for us to evaluate the science in that space and the regulatory frameworks that exist,” he said.
“At the minute it is very much a watching brief of what is happening in that area but we are monitoring it closely.”
BAT, which sells vape brands Vype and Vuse, employs around 1,100 staff at its Southampton research and development site, which is focused on its vaping, heated tobacco and oral tobacco products.
It comes days after the US started its ban on popular e-cigarette flavours in a move health regulators hope will curb teenage vaping.
BAT has previously welcomed the ban but said in November that it would cut around 2,300 jobs worldwide in an overhaul to invest in vaping and new products.
On Wednesday, rival Imperial Brands warned its earnings would fall in 2020 as part of the US crackdown, which have dented its efforts to move away from traditional cigarettes.
The new US measures come after the Centres of Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) said 47 deaths in the country were most likely to have been caused by vaping.
Last month, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRE) said it was investigating two deaths over the past year which were potentially caused by e-cigarette or vaping-related lung injury.
Mr Griffiths said that his team at the Southampton site were in constant communication with regulators to make sure its vaping products were as safe as possible.
He said: “We want to provide all the information we possibly can to ensure that regulation is robust and that consumers are not going to be compromised.
“Our products do meet the rigorous standards that are demanded across the world.
“We want to support regulators to ensure that, if there is any information we can provide, it will be provided.
“BAT’s approach is one for open dialogue.”