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GTNF boss, Rasmussen tasks corporate leaders on sustainability

Executive Director and Founder of Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum, GTNF, Mrs. Elise Rasmussen has tasked corporate leaders to embrace sustainability towards creating a better living environment for all.

Speaking at the opening of a virtual event marking the second edition of In Focus programmes on the theme “sustainability”, she said it is better to leave the world than allow it to degenerate into a dangerously inhabitable place.

Mrs. Rasmussen who disclosed that the In Focus concept is a culmination of a long term collaboration between GTNF conference content and stakeholders, said the birth of In Focus was necessitated by the need to dive deeper on many topics relating to sustainability.

According to her “a lot of people saw sustainability from one side merely in growing greens, but sustainability is endowed with multitude of uses, its revolution on how organization relate to their stakeholders, their communities, the resources they used, and the wider environment upon which the whole world depends, including, for instance the CO2 emissions versus Air travel sustainability.

She explained further that “sustainability is about ensuring sustainable business models, diversity and inclusion, providing different opportunities and perspectives on social responsibility and philanthropic endeavor, uplifting the communities that surround businesses, footprint resource stewardship and green policies to help the world achieve its climate change goals and resilience.

The GTNF founder said the programs and passion of the sponsors in sustainability are so overwhelming through the In Focus at the frontline and visible in agriculture communities.

She said these include transforming agriculture values chain and investing in long term solution, to keeping kids in school, to programs on circular economy, to water management best practices, to commitment on workforce development and empowerment of a new generation of diverse rising leaders, to ensuring equity and harms reduction opportunities, to cutting carbon footprint and emission.

Mrs. Rasmussen noted that the sponsors have been at the forefront of the sustainability advocacy long enough before GTNF have an acronym to address the challenges.

“I am a mother and a grandmother and this is all about leaving to our children and grandchildren a better world than we inherited, and so with a sense of pride”, she said.

Earlier in her keynote address, Pippa Bailey, head of climate change and sustainability practice at Ipsos, said what is good for people and the planet will also enhance stability for businesses and organizations.

Mrs. Bailey who cautioned on the negligence of this global acknowledgement that is heading toward environmental disaster unless humans change their negative customs, said about 83% of global citizens see this, and it’s not seen in some areas across the globe.

She stated that more than three quarters of people are experiencing impacts of climate change, not only in the country, but in a specific region and environment that people lived in, which is an embodiment to the globe.

Mrs Bailey noted that about 90% of people in areas of South America, experience flooding, hurricanes, extreme temperatures, and the disrupted weather patterns being faced by so many people which is affecting their ability to work, their homes with so many consequences.

She however explained that in the global trends survey, attitudes toward religion, politics, healthcare and education, even the climate emergency, are the top values on the planet that affect humanity in their day to day dealing.

She expressed concern that global warming is present in most people’s minds across the globe and that when looking at the specific environmental concerns the waste plastics and packaging is actually ahead of climate change which are impacting as reported on the news, social media, documentaries and other mediums which make consumers feel they are just emerging.

Mrs Bailey affirmed that focusing on climate change, especially cigarette smoking which has a huge challenge because of cigarette butts regarded as the most littered product on the planet.

She said the challenges also comes with an opportunity to take leadership which is the key to most significant challenges based on innovative solutions such as Barry’s lateral thinking which is often facilitated by technology.

In his remarks, jiý Erik Bloomquist, a Consultant at Global Nicotine and Tobacco Investment, said beyond businesses and organizations, customers and citizens also have significant roles to play in mitigating the challenges.

Bloomquist pointed out that in some instances, over the last seven years, consumers and citizens could take into account actions that are very little but increase their behaviours regarding the environment.

He stated that sustainability conundrum for tobacco is primarily around higher risk cigarettes versus reduced risks from products, adding that engagement is really the way to go and that there are difficult tradeoffs happening at the moment.

He noted that tobacco smoking is combustible and that it is a greater risk than any inherent harm of low risk tobacco products with the potential for a long term revenue growth.

“The combustible products, the regulatory constraints and the opportunity are limited by those combined with the taxation that is increasingly present within the producers products”, he added.

On the question of public health and skepticism of non-governmental organizations around the low risk products, Bloomquist said it was apt to believe that the tobacco industry is concerned about their consumers’ health.

He reasoned that only when the industry stops selling combustible cigarettes will they believe the innovative strides being recorded by the reduced risk products from a commercial point of view and also in managing the tobacco conundrum.

He argued that the sustainability conundrum is compounded by the recent changes in the investment environment as well as the rising interest rates that lead to galloping inflation which makes industries paying dividends look increasingly attractive.

Bloomquist also reiterated that the sustainability efforts are mostly important in the transition of the tobacco leaf farmers with the sustainable farming practices, and in giving them a future as tobacco leaf merchants.

He emphasised that it is important for stakeholders to focus on wholistic engagement, instead of exclusion, and that the evidnece on investment side supports this based on recent studies.

He also asserted that the reduced risks and all the legal channels have an awful lot of misinformation because some agencies and entities are actively working against it, which is harmful to those consumers who would continued smoking.

He said to ensure willing consumers across both high and middle income, and low and middle income countries, have access, it was imperatives to make case for those consumers.

He disclosed that In Focus will strive to achieve its aim through the support of global sponsors, including ALD, AllianceOne, Philip Morris, and Innovative Heating Technology by Smoore, among others.

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