Altria Group Inc. will conduct an equity and civil rights assessment to address feedback from recent shareholder engagement, the company said.
“We believe the assessment will identify opportunities to accelerate progress toward our 2025 Corporate Responsibility focus area goals, enhance stakeholder alignment and promote transparency,” the Richmond, Va.-based tobacco company said.
The assessment will include a review of policies, practices, programs and services intended to address the harm associated with tobacco use and the effectiveness of Altria’s harm reduction efforts, including underage tobacco use prevention programs, tobacco cessation support, responsible marketing practices and regulatory engagement and public policy. It will include an evaluation of these policies on communities of color and youth, as well as Altria’s progress on diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) efforts.
Altria will lead the assessment and an external advisory review board—consisting of third-party, independent members—will oversee it. Altria will also seek input from key stakeholders including investors, employees, customers, suppliers, community partners and more. Findings will be published in a report on Altria’s website within a year of when the assessment begins.
In the second half of 2022, Altria contacted its top 30 shareholders, representing about 43% of its outstanding shares, to seek their views concerning a requested civil rights equity audit and Altria’s proposed approach to conducting the assessment. Feedback from these investors helped inform the company’s approach.
Altria owns Philip Morris USA Inc., John Middleton, U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co., and also has a stake in e-cigarette company Juul. Its products include Marlboro cigarettes, On modern oral nicotine pouches and Copenhagen moist smokeless tobacco.
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