The Smoke-Free Index™ will provide quantifiable evidence over time of what steps the largest tobacco companies are taking toward achieving a smoke-free world and any actions they take to impede that progress. The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World established consultancy agreements with global market research company Euromonitor International and leading think tank and advisory firm SustainAbility for the creation of the Smoke-Free Index™, the first report of which will be published in mid-2020, with regular updates thereafter. The Smoke-Free Index™ will evaluate 15 of the largest tobacco companies in the world. The Smoke-Free Index™ is the first action of the Foundation’s Industry Transformation initiative, a core pillar of the Foundation’s overall mission to achieve a smoke-free world within this generation.
Technological disruption is well underway in the tobacco industry and nicotine ecosystem. The Foundation believes now is the right time for industry innovation, as unprecedented and innovative technologies are reducing the health risks associated with nicotine delivery compared with those of emissions found only in combustible tobacco. Using an objective methodology, the Smoke-Free Index™ endeavors to measure the nature of the tobacco companies’ allocation of capital, research and development, marketing, product sales, regional variations, production decisions, violations, and more. The objective is to incentivize scientific research and development for the advancement of product innovations to benefit public health and potentially millions of adult smokers, particularly in developing countries. The Index will also review indicators associated with approximately 36 countries to demonstrate their policies and actions in contributing to a smoke-free world through measures such as tax structure on combustible cigarettes, regulatory policy on reduced-risk products, and other metrics.
We believe investors have significant influence on corporate management decision-making. The Index will provide them and their advisors with quantifiable evidence of how companies are addressing industry transformation, on both an absolute and a relative basis, as an additional tool with which to wield influence and promote change. By creating a direct relationship between a company’s transformation and shareholder value, while quantifying transformation through clear and transparent metrics, we envision using a market-driven approach to incentivize sustainable change toward a smoke-free world.
The Foundation laid the groundwork for its work in this area with the Global Trends in Nicotine report, which identifies the major players in nicotine delivery, outlines their product organization and geographic focus, and quantifies their output primarily on a relative basis. In addition, two “case study” Indexes were researched and evaluated – Access to Nutrition and Access to Medicine.
In September 2018, the Foundation issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to develop and implement the Smoke-Free Index™. After careful consideration, two award selections were made in January 2019 and the program was initiated in February 2019. Euromonitor International was awarded lead responsibilities for process design, Index research & analysis, and reporting. SustainAbility was awarded lead responsibilities for stakeholder engagement & seminars, program oversight, and project review. Given that Euromonitor International and SustainAbility are among the most respected independent research firms in the world, we believe these selections offer the Foundation the opportunity to ensure that the Smoke-Free Index™ is received by all stakeholders as a credible, valuable, and material change agent toward ending smoking in this generation.
Euromonitor International and SustainAbility are collaborating to develop the Index through a work process that includes research, global stakeholder engagement and listening seminars, Index development, data analysis, and independent expert oversight. Their progress will be communicated in an open and transparent manner at critical milestones leading up to the release of the initial Smoke-Free Index™ in mid-2020, with regular updates thereafter.
To aid the design of the Index, we will receive inputs from key multidisciplinary stakeholder groups through a series of listening seminars and consultations in multiple countries. The purpose of these meetings is to explore and strengthen the Index’s theory of change, identify and prioritize specific topics the Index should address, and inform the measures necessary to ensure the research process and outputs of the Index are objective, credible, and effective.
Since May 2019, the Smoke-Free Index™ consultation sessions have taken place in multiple locations. The meetings have brought together representatives from academia, the investor community, consulting, nongovernmental organizations, and tobacco and agriculture associations.
The dialogues to date have brought together a broad range of perspectives. In line with the Foundation’s commitment to openness and transparency, an interim report summarizing common key discussion points and recommendations about the Index process and content has been compiled. A complete summary report will be published at the conclusion of the dialogue sessions.
For more information on the Smoke-Free Index™, see Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).