Tobacco Transformation Index®: Progress and Next Steps - Foundation for a Smoke-Free World

Tobacco Transformation Index®: Progress and Next Steps

Launched in September of this year, the Tobacco Transformation Index® is a comprehensive evaluation of the world’s 15 largest tobacco companies. The first tool of its kind, the Index documents companies’ sales, investments, and strategies related to the transition away from combustible cigarettes and other high-risk tobacco products—with the ultimate goal of accelerating the reduction of harm caused by tobacco use.

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More than a research project, the Index presents a practical framework and set of metrics that can be used by institutional investors. It also provides a potential roadmap for tobacco companies on the path toward sustainable harm reduction. Given that more than a billion people smoke worldwide—and that more than eight million smokers die each year—the stakes of this initiative could not be greater. 

In the weeks following launch, the Index team conducted and documented a systematic review of the first edition of the Tobacco Transformation Index®. The review included in-depth interviews with members of the project team, the Advisory Panel, and selected external stakeholders; in total, the team spoke with 34 individuals. The objective of this process was to understand and evaluate key strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities for the Index as it moves into its next cycle, which will lead to the publication of the second company ranking in September 2022.

As work on this initiative proceeds, the Index team remains committed to transparency and open dialogue. In that spirit, the team plans to publish the Index 2022 design and methodology around October 2021, approximately one year in advance of next publication. Leading up to that point, the team intends to issue preliminary Index design and methodology information in the spring of 2021, a step that will allow for public feedback and will inform a series of virtual stakeholder consultations. In the summer of 2021, the team intends to complete and document stakeholder and industry consultations. This phase will be followed by a review, which will be conducted in collaboration with the Index advisory panel and technical expert committee. Formal data requests of the companies will begin during the first quarter of 2022, with a data validation process to follow in the second quarter.

Having completed a successful launch, the Foundation is now committed to enhancing the Tobacco Transformation Index® platform. In the coming years, the Foundation aims to advance the Index in several important ways, including:

  • Expand the reach and depth of stakeholder consultation, in terms of the number and diversity of stakeholders and the sophistication of dialogue;
  • Expand the theory of change to better address different company types and geographies, including state-owned tobacco companies;
  • Increase the sophistication of indicators around responsible marketing;
  • Better understand company performance in the context of country regulation, consumer preferences, and other factors shaping the character of individual markets;
  • Develop research on Intellectual Property (IP), technological change, R&D investment and impact, emerging initiatives, and related issues;
  • Increase the diversity of the Index Advisory Panel and supplement it with a formal technical committee; and
  • Prioritize efforts to build partnerships and diversify funding of the Index over time.

With the proof of concept of the Index now demonstrated, the Foundation is enabling the  forces of competition, differentiation, and constructive engagement to run their course. The Foundation is committed to disseminating and strengthening the Tobacco Transformation Index® with the ultimate objective of advancing public health.

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