A worker cuts cannabis
Uriel Sinai | Getty Images
LONDON – British American Tobacco wants to sell cannabis products to find new sources of income beyond cigarettes and vaping.
Kingsley Wheaton, the company’s chief marketing officer, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” on Wednesday that CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the consumer areas it has in mind.
CBD is an active ingredient in cannabis that is extracted from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the marijuana plant. The health benefits have been widely touted by manufacturers, but scientists say more research needs to be done.
“We’re only going to think about and go beyond the tobacco and nicotine room, in fact,” said Wheaton, adding that CBD is an “exciting area of growth for our business going forward.”
Wheaton’s comments come shortly after two cannabis companies listed on the London Stock Exchange, but BAT remains cautious.
“It’s a very different regulatory landscape when you travel the world and a lot of markets are currently inaccessible for regulatory reasons,” said Wheaton.
“We make a very big difference between CBD and other forms of cannabis,” he said. “We’re interested in CBD. But I think the bigger point is that we’re trying to build the portfolio of the future for our business. We’re trying to build the brands of the future. We’re trying to meet the needs of consumers.” Smoking used to meet a new transformed portfolio. “
BAT launched a CBD vaping product called Vuse in January, which comes in mint, mango and berry flavors and has two strengths: 50 mg and 100 mg.
The Vuse product is sold through a pilot in Manchester. “It’s there now,” said Wheaton. “We test and learn and understand that.”
British American Tobacco shares fell 5.7% on Wednesday morning despite the world’s second-largest tobacco company beating pre-bell earnings estimates.
He added that the pandemic has allowed BAT to “more radically change” the way business is done, moving from a “tobacco company to a more technology-focused company”.