Andrew Gregson is Head of Corporate and Legal Affairs for the Australasia Cluster of Imperial Tobacco. Andrew has been with Imperial for three years, prior to which he headed up a lobby group for water users during the height of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan debate. He has formerly served as State Director of a major political party and as Chief of Staff to a State Parliamentary Leader. He holds qualifications in Economics and Laws and is admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor.
In this conversation with Connect Intelligence, Andrew tackles the topics of consumers, tobacco and competition. To learn more from Andrew, join us at the Corporate Affairs Summit.
1. Given the higher level of regulation and laws around tobacco selling in Australia, what considerations do you believe are essential for groups like Imperial Tobacco to remain a prominent force in the Australian market?
Firstly, Imperial complies with regulations in all markets in which it operates, including Australia. We support sensible and practical regulation, but do not believe that the level of regulation in Australia fits within those boundaries.
Like any FMCG company, we strive to ‘remain a prominent force’ by meeting consumer demand.
2. What strategies do you employ to circumvent barriers to advertising and communication flows made by government regulations and lobby groups?
None whatsoever. Imperial Tobacco does not ‘circumvent barriers to advertising and communications’.
3. How does Imperial Tobacco intend to respond to the growth of illegal markets reacting to increased tax levies and plain packaging bills that seek to decrease public smoking consumption rates?
Imperial Tobacco invests considerable time and money into combatting illicit tobacco, which is a significant problem in Australia. Research following global best practice indicate that close to 14% of all tobacco consumption in Australia is illegal. That’s one in every seven cigarettes. It comes at a loss of around $1.4 billion to Australian taxpayers in lost excise, with the profits from the business flowing to serious and organised crime, including international terrorist groups.
4. Imperial Tobacco pride their focus on consumer choice as being essential to a robust consumer market. Given the overall decline of smoking in the last few decades, how can making active steps towards protecting consumer choice benefit individuals and businesses alike?
Australian consumers enjoy competitive markets for most goods provided by FMCG providers. Tobacco is no different.