After almost 2 years we got an answer from Souza Cruz about their position on sustainability issues.
To obtain this answer we worked with the work premise that is:
ALWAYS TALK WITH THE BOSS
This is the history of how we got this answer:
Browsing online we found out that Mrs. Jennie Galbraith , Britsh Tabacco Sustainability Director, would give a lecture on a Social Responsibility Forum in England.
With this information in hand we got her contact details and request a position on this matter and in less than a week the Brazil time gave an answer for this question that was ignored for almost 2 years.
Despite the unique education of the tobacco industry professionals I could see on the answers form the Company something very similar to the Nick Naylor´s speech, the emblematic character of the tobacco industry on the movie “Thank you for Smoke”.
About the answers, we can see how much the company is evasive in its positions and totally indifferente on the evils of your product for the society.
Generally speaking the speech is: I pay the taxes on time and the government that takes care of its patients.
It is clear how much the speech is empty and how we got even to doubt. IF what is Said is true or not, because the company emphatically states that all the employees use a protection equipment on their jobs but the company report points to a different scene when shows a picture where the employees are not using the referred equipment.
Souza Cruz´s report is one of the finest example of how much a well structured corporative speech can confuse the reader if he doesn’t have information to compare.
We refresh our memories that nowadays no company is forced to be sustainable. So, don´t push it, be fair and clear.
here it is the answers we got from the company:
Dear Roberto, here is the replies of the questions you sent us. We restate the apologies for the delay, because our objective is to quickly attend all of the demands we got as a rule. I understand that your blog´s spirit is to go deep into sustainability thoughts, and that is good. I also report to you the assurance that, over our 109 years, we always dedicate ourselves to do the best to all of the people who have connection with our subject.
Best regards. Fernando
1 – You claim to be a sustainable company. But, seeing that to be sustainable a company have to be economically profitable, environmentally friendly and socially acceptable, I ask: How a tobacco company can be sustainable once its product is not socially acceptable and seeing our the juridical restrictions for sale, marketing and advertising mainly?
In Brazil the tobacco products are lawful and, because of that, the federal constitution and the normas infracfonstitucionais ensure to all the citizens the right to buy and consume it.
Because their use is associate with health hazards, the tobacco marketing is highly regulated.
Souza Cruz supports a balanced regulation that allows the adult consumers, aware of the tobacco hazards, the right to choose to smoke.
Besides, at Souza Cruz website (www.souzacruz.com.br) is possible to find the information that sustainable have been a commitment of the Company for 109 years and corporate social responsibility is one of its brand.
It is important to highlight that corporate social responsibility is a form of management – that doesn’t exclude any kind of business – so there is no reason for a tobacco company, or any other business segment, to manage its chain on a irresponsible way.
2 – Souza Cruz believes into provide benefits to the communities in which it’s inserted. What does it mean? Which benefits the tobacco can bring to a community, no counting, logically, the economic gain with the tobacco selling?
At Souza Cruz website (www.souzacruz.com.br), in the section on Corporate Social Investment Policy and also the Communication on Progress of the Global Compact, available to download, you can find all the initiatives undertaken for the Souza Cruz to the communities and its production chain with the objective of creating value for the society. Souza Cruz pays millions of taxes to the government each year.
3 – You say that: “Souza Cruz also aims to develop tobacco products that, with time, would be recognized for the scientific and regulatory authorities such as products that substantially reduces the health hazards”. When is this going to exist? Is it a factual study or just an utopian?
Develop low risk cigars that are supported by the health authorities is one of our main goals. The challenge, however, is to develop tobacco products that are accept by the consumers that have the public health authorities recognition.
As detailed in the Souza Cruz´ website, the Brithe American Tobacco companies all over the world have made researches aiming the production of a low risk cigars.
Further more information can be found at the Group Suitability report, that is available at the website www.bat.com/sustainability.
Technical information for researches can also be found at the website www.bat-science.com.
4 – Can you explain some of the information on your phrases which your premise is written in?
In disseminating clear and accurate messages about the risks of tobacco consumption. I ASK: Where can I find this in the products you have besides the mandatory messages from the health department on your website?
The risks associated with cigarette smoking are, for decades, widely known.
As noted, in response to resolutions of the National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) cigarette packages have two warnings warning of the risks associated with consumption of the product, one composed of text, image and number of Stop Smoking Dial Service and other with the phrase "This product contains more than 4,700 toxic substances and nicotine which causes physical or psychological dependence. There are no safe levels for consumption of these substances. "
Besides, there is a specific section at Souza Cruz website about “Smoking and Health” where you can find in a clear and accurate form information concerning the hazards associated with smoking.
In disseminating clear and accurate messages about the risks of tobacco consumption. I ASK: How is this equation solved once the company's president celebrates sales success in the same document?
The risks associated with cigarette smoking are, for decades, widely known and the decision to consume them or not is a matter of free choice by adult consumers.
The cigarettes manufactured by Souza Cruz are targeted at adult consumers and prior smoking. As the marketing of the product authorized by the Federal Constitution itself, there is no illegality in the development of this activity.
Based on these premises, nor is there lawlessness in investment by the company in business growth, since it is based on capturing opportunities identified in the consumer market of adult smokers and prior smoking, through a fair competition with their competitors and the fight smuggling and counterfeiting, which today accounts for about 30% of the brazilian market of cigarettes.
That high standards of corporate social responsibility should be promoted in the tobacco industry. I ASK: Which it would be this high standards? Stopping selling cigarettes?
The high standards of corporate social responsibility that we believe should be promoted at tobacco industry are related to respect the universally accepted fundamental human rights, ethics and transparency, compliance (including related to that ban the sale of cigarettes to persons under 18), environmental protection, diversity
and development of employees, among others.
That the tobacco industry should be heard about the creation of government policies that affect them. I ASK: In what way companies look to be heard? Can you make this clearer?
As stated on Souza Cruz website we believe that the tobacco regulation should be governed by good legislative practices, which include also those who make up the regulated sector, as in any other field of activity regulated, and seek dialogue with regulators to ensure that issues related to production and consumption of cigarettes should be regulated sensibly.
5 – throughout the report you mention all the economic impacts of the tobacco industry, but why you don´t mention the social impacts?
Souza Cruz website transparently discloses the risks associated with cigarette consumption. And on this same website are available all the social and environmental initiatives developed along the entire value chain of the Company.
6 - Within the environment, 43% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions since 2001 is considered the carbon dioxide emitted by the 684 billion cigarettes produced or not?
The Souza Cruz´s Carbon Balance is available for download on the website (www.souzacruz.com.br) in the section “Carbon Balance”. This document details all sources that are considered for the inventory.
7 – At Page 11 of the report there is a Picture with several employees handling tobacco leaves without gloves. Isn´t this a risk to the worker since he is directly exposed to the nicotine in his skin?
The use of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is required for any activity that exposes the employee to some risk, which is fully respected by Souza Cruz.
8 - You say in governance "Souza Cruz offers to the stakeholders in an agile and transparent way, an understanding of the financial results and strategic direction of your business."
ASK: Is this also done when the information has to be about the social and health risks attributed to smoking?
Souza Cruz website and its reports disseminate in a transparent manner all financial results of the company, as well as the risks associated with cigarette consumption, and also disclose how the business is conducted throughout its value chain.
9 – You say that “Unfair competition was the central concern of the stakeholders present at the Fourth Cycle Dialogues. ". I ASK: Who are the stakeholders consulted (at no time was mentioned who they are)? Are they only agents of the tobacco market or there is also health personnel, educators and environmentalists? Because I
think it is very difficult for this public to have as a main concern unfair competition.
The Dialogues Cycle considers various stakeholder groups and not just one group, as listed on page 52 of the report.
Further stakeholders expectations can be found on pages 28, 34 and 38.
Moreover, it is important to remember that the whole process of dialogue mentioned in the report was followed and verified by Bureau Veritas, as noted on pages 50 and 51.
The illegal market segment now accounts for approximately 30% of the total market for cigarettes sold in the country. It is estimated that Brazil lost about $ 2 billion in revenue, several jobs and several other impacts arising from the illegality and its supply chain.
10 - The main suggestion of your circle of dialogue is that all of the cigarette tax goes to welfare, an interesting proposal, but at no time I have seen in the dialogue which will be the part of the company in the process. Would you be willing to invest in health and paying taxes?
As explained, the tobacco is a already known product of inherent risk, however lawful and authorized by the state for trade and consumption, through severe regulatory restrictions, supervision and very high tax burden
For this reason and in accordance with that mentioned in the report itself, Souza Cruz believes that the financing of public health programs is an issue related to resource and management by the State.
11- You say on the text that: Epidemiological studies indicate that 90% of patients with lung cancer are smokers or former smokers, and the likelihood of contracting the disease increases with time, as the smoker is more exposed to all elements contained in the smoke and the amount of cigarette consumed.
"If you're worried, smoke less, if you remain worried, stop smoking," said one of the texts published on the website.
Doesn´t this type of positioning reveal a total lack of sensitivity on your part and a lack of respect for the consumer, since the burden is only with the person and the company washes its hands?
Traditionally, epidemiology is used to identify associations that point to possible causes of an illness, pointing the way to detailed laboratory investigations. Regarding to cigarette smoking, the number of laboratory investigations performed during the course of time proved to be more problematic, and science has not yet been able to identify the biological mechanisms that explain with certainty the statistical findings linking cigarette smoking to certain diseases, neither science was able to clear up until now the role that certain components of cigarette plays in these disease processes.
Cigarette smoking is a risk factor for developing certain diseases, but it is worth pointing out that diseases associated with consumption of tobacco are multifactorial, and is also associated with other risk factors such as genetic predisposition, environmental exposure, physical inactivity , eating habits, obesity, among others. This means that someone who has never smoked may develop these diseases and, similarly, people who smoked throughout their lives may never develop them.
The only way to avoid the health risk associated with smoking is not smoking and the best way to reduce these risks is to quit smoking.
Information available at the Company´s website.
12 – You didn´t make it clear in the report why the risks of the product will be published only at the website. Why don’t use other medias?
The risks associated with cigarette smoking are, for decades, widely known. Still, the information about the risks associated with cigarette smoking are available in ALL packages of Souza Cruz´s products.
In addiction, the Company´s website provides a clear and accurate information about the risks associated with smoking.
Finally, all product´s communication made with the consumer - a few years ago restricted to the interior points of sale - is accompanied by warnings that point to the risks associated with cigarette smoking.