While RAI and its subsidiaries do not employ farm workers or grow tobacco, we engage with growers, leaf suppliers and other stakeholders to address social and environmental sustainability risks and opportunities in the tobacco supply chain. We put significant effort into ensuring that our contracted growers have the training and resources they need to do the right thing for the people who play an important role in our operating companies’ supply chain.
Through contracts with growers, we require compliance with laws protecting workers and the environment; and compliance with Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) standards for environmental, agronomical and labor practices and standards. R.J. Reynolds purchases tobacco leaf and provides services relating to tobacco leaf procurement through services agreements for American Snuff Company (ASC) and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company (SFNTC).
Imported tobacco is sourced through a network of leaf suppliers who participate in the AB Sustain Sustainable Tobacco Production (STP) program. AB Sustain, an international auditing organization, conducts third-party audits of all tobacco leaf suppliers that sell tobacco to R.J. Reynolds, ASC and SFNTC. This program provides a platform for periodic review of our international leaf supply chain and covers key sustainability areas, such as:
Through the STP program, we monitor leaf suppliers’ performance against criteria pertaining to sustainability, and create an environment of knowledge transfer, capacity building and continuous improvement within our leaf supplier base.
Risks inherent in agricultural work, together with the special issues that arise when a significant number of farm workers are migrant workers, make compliance with the laws that protect farm workers on contracted farms a priority for R.J. Reynolds and its affiliates that purchase tobacco, and for many of our stakeholders. The GAP standards, against which we also review contract growers, address the following social issues:
In 2015, we completed a third-party environmental materiality assessment to determine where our largest environmental impacts occur. Not surprisingly, we found that the significant majority of our environmental impacts occur in our supply chain and in particular, the farming of tobacco leaf. The GAP standards against which we review contract growers address the following environmental management issues:
We continue to productively engage with various activist organizations to affect positive change in our tobacco leaf supply chain. Since 2011, R.J. Reynolds has participated in the Farm Labor Practices Group, a multilateral group of manufacturers, grower representatives, worker advocates and government agencies to address the complex issues affecting farm labor. The group meets regularly to discuss how progress can continue to be made to ensure farmworkers who work with tobacco and other agricultural crops have access to proper training and equipment, appropriate living and working conditions, and access to accurate information about wages and other topics.
Goals & Leadership
Our goal is to audit or assess, at least every three years, 100 percent of our contracted growers in the U.S. against GAP standards and our grower code of conduct. Internationally, 100 percent of leaf suppliers are audited every three years against STP program standards.
The executive vice president of operations for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and executive vice president of public affairs of Reynolds American Inc. (RAI) are ultimately responsible for RAI’s tobacco supply chain management and goals. Through services agreements, R.J. Reynolds provides services relating to tobacco leaf procurement to other RAI tobacco operating companies that purchase tobacco leaf, enabling an integrated, comprehensive approach to managing our leaf supply chain. Executives from the leaf department and corporate sustainability and commercial equity collaborate to develop, coordinate and execute programs to achieve company-wide goals and targets.
Programs & Priorities
R.J. Reynolds adopts a three-part, STP-based approach to management of leaf supply chain social and environmental issues.