Debunking 5 Popular Myths About Working in the Tobacco Industry

debunking myths tobacco industry

If you are a fresh graduate or young professional, there might be a chance that the “sin industry” is the first thing that comes into mind when you think about the tobacco industry. This comes as no surprise as there are people who perceive working in tobacco companies to be ethically questionable. However, is working in a tobacco company all that it seems to be from the outside? Those individuals who choose to work for the industry lack a certain ethical compass?

We have taken the most glaring stereotypes about working in Big Tobacco and dug deep to debunk and bring you the 5 biggest myths within work life in this industry.

Myth #1: You need to be a smoker to join a tobacco company

debunking myths tobacco industry

One stereotype that some may have surrounding tobacco companies is that they require their employees to smoke, so those who are non-smokers must start lighting up cigarettes in the office space. This is not the case at all! In fact, the reality is that all workspaces strictly enforce a no-smoking policy. Although vaping is allowed at the office, you will have to step outside the office building or head towards the designated smoking room in order to smoke.

The truth is that Big Tobacco companies such as BAT Malaysia take work culture seriously. They consistently advocate for their employees’ individual freedom and take steps to ensure their wellbeing and health. By creating respectful and safe work environments, it is definitely no surprise that many tobacco firms are amongst the top employers in the world.

Myth #2: Tobacco firms are blind to science & think smoking is socially appealing

debunking myths tobacco industry

Many members of the public think that the tobacco industry promotes smoking as a glamorous activity. However, companies have done away with old advertisements that depict individuals smoking a cigarette as high-class. It is no secret that tobacco firms acknowledge the dangers of smoking cigarettes. Indeed, tobacco manufacturers typically abide by strict government regulations to explicitly warn consumers that smoking is dangerous to our health.

In countries like Malaysia for example, the law requires tobacco companies to adhere to stringent design criteria when it comes to displaying the health repercussions of smoking nicotine. Legislation in the country requires 50% of the front of individual cigarette packets to be covered with text and graphic warnings, while the same applies to 60% of the back cover.

Myth #3: Tobacco firms prioritise profit at the expense of society & the environment

debunking myths tobacco industry

You may have tried to imagine what work-life may look like in a tobacco company. Perhaps it’s full of corporates with horns looking to maximise profit to the detriment of society and Mother Earth. Take a closer look, however, and you will see that is far from the truth! In fact, it is the world’s most profitable tobacco companies that especially focus on socially- conscious practices as integral to their business frameworks.

Industry leader BAT is on track to actively reduce CO2 emissions by 40% from their operations by 2030, while other firms within the FMCG industry prioritise the sustainability of their product supply in their corporate strategy. When it comes to fair employee treatment, BAT really means all employees – including their tobacco farmers. The industry has even taken strides to partner with farmers to develop the socio-economic conditions of their communities. It is clear that moral principles play a key role in all points of the supply chain.

Myth #4: A career at tobacco firms is all about marketing and distribution

Yes, it’s true – tobacco companies dedicate large amounts of resources to engage with consumers. Nonetheless, it’s also true that there are plenty of career opportunities at tobacco companies that go beyond sales and marketing. Tobacco companies are businesses like any other that require a team of talented individuals with different functions in order to drive the business. Human Resources, Legal & External Affairs, Finance, Supply Chain are only a few common departments that are responsible to ensure the legality of their business.

Their complex business stands on top of a myriad of departments such as R&D that focuses on reducing the harms of new products, the Comms team that handles ESG projects in order to give back to society, and many more. The diverse nature of their corporate structure empowers employees to freely choose how they want to apply their own expertise to the business. Remember how tobacco companies are amongst the top employers in the world? It’s not surprising that they continuously invest significant resources into taking care of their workforce.

Myth #5: Tobacco companies are all about cigarettes and cigars

Think again. Tobacco companies actually want to support people who are looking to quit smoking, well – quit! So, the industry’s biggest companies like BAT have introduced alternative products with lower health risks such as e-cigarettes or vaping devices. This is in line with BAT’s mission to work with the Government in order to legalize them as well as to combat illicit cigarette sales in Malaysia. This is all done to ensure that only legal substances are being used while taking care of the health of the people through quality, less harmful products.

Without being governed by the government, anything could be added to these products and inflict harm to the user. Not only are they especially beneficial for smokers who cannot quit or choose not to quit. They also contribute to slashing the harmful effects of second-hand smoking without reducing the sense of enjoyment that comes with it. Hence, with demand increasing for these next-generation devices, the future looks bright for smokers and non-smokers alike. You didn’t expect that, did you?

Inspired to explore a career in this exciting industry? Discover great career opportunities with BAT Malaysia today!

As part of BAT Malaysia, you will embark on an exciting transformation with an agile commercial-centric organisation with innovation at the heart of their future.
If you are interested in exploring a career with a top global employer, visit the BAT Malaysia website to learn more about the company’s culture and ongoing developments.

Alternatively, if you are a fresh graduate looking to kickstart your professional career with a holistic and fulfilling learning experience, learn more about the BAT Global Graduate Programme here.



Related: The BAT EVP Reimagined: Driving Great Talents to Be the Change and Create A Better Tomorrow


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