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Responsible Agriculture

Audits & Assessments

R.J. Reynolds, on behalf of each RAI tobacco operating company, has a comprehensive program of audits and assessments throughout our tobacco procurement supply chain. Through these processes, we review environmental and social risks inherent in agricultural work for both domestic growers with which we contract directly, and domestic and international suppliers from which we purchase leaf.

Grower Audits

R.J. Reynolds, on behalf of each RAI tobacco operating company, was the first U.S. tobacco company to engage a third-party auditor to audit contracted farm practices against Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) standards, including environmental, agronomic and labor practices, and release that report to the public.

Farm audits include personal interviews with a minimum of 20 percent of the workforce on each farm. Interviews occur outside the presence of the grower and are an important source of information about labor practices. R.J. Reynolds was the first company to include such interviews in its audits, and the first to make them public.

In addition to third-party audits, the company also conducts assessments in which an employee of R.J. Reynolds visits a farm and assesses compliance with GAP standards.

Our goal is to audit or assess, at least every five years, 100 percent of contracted growers in the U.S. against GAP standards and our grower code of conduct. Through audits and regular farm visits, RAI’s tobacco operating companies hold suppliers responsible, and non-compliance with applicable laws is grounds for termination of the contract.

Since 2011, we have audited a significant number of our U.S. grower base.

YearThird-Party AuditsAssessmentsContracted Growers% Audited or Assessed
2013* 5722,17126
2016 (Goal)350431,96720
*No audits due to transition to GAP Connections

Supplier Audits

In addition to directly contracted growers, R.J. Reynolds and its affiliates who purchase tobacco also audit contracted leaf suppliers. R.J. Reynolds employs A.B. Sustain, an international auditing organization, to conduct third-party audits of all tobacco leaf suppliers that sell tobacco to R.J. Reynolds, American Snuff and Santa Fe. AB Sustain’s Sustainable Tobacco Production (STP) program has become the industry standard in tobacco production, providing guidance and support, validation and a step-based approach to facilitate continuous improvement. The STP program is used globally by tobacco companies to encourage clear and consistent standards across the industry. This program provides a platform for periodic review of our leaf supply chain and covers key sustainability areas, such as:

  • Factory work environment;
  • Safety;
  • Carbon footprint;
  • Farmer training;
  • Soil and water conservation;
  • Biodiversity;
  • Child labor; and
  • Equal opportunity employment.

Through the STP program, we monitor leaf suppliers’ performance against these criteria and create an environment of knowledge transfer, capacity building and continuous improvement within our leaf supplier base. Tobacco suppliers complete an online self-assessment annually which allows them to assess their performance and identify improvement opportunities.

AB Sustain performs on-site veri­fication reviews of all suppliers in the program at least every three years. These audits ensure suppliers are accurately responding to the STP question­naire, verifying a supplier’s responses against documented evidence. AB Sustain further reviews documentation against on-site observations. Suppliers are provided with feedback to help them advance their environmental and social footprints and perform any necessary corrective actions.

R.J. Reynolds, as a supplier of leaf to British American Tobacco, is held to the same international standards to which we hold our suppliers, and is audited by AB Sustain in the same manner.