Its NGP category - "New Generation Products" - led by Vuse, glo and Velo achieved £1 billion in sales in 2019. This figure will rise to £3 billion in 2023, representing just 11% of consolidated sales. Progress is real, but overwhelmingly slow.

The overview of half-year results released last night does not offer much to cheer about. The fuel market - which accounts for almost nine-tenths of BAT's consolidated sales - is in freefall in the USA, with volumes down 9%.

This development is particularly worrying for the British company, which still generates half of its consolidated operating profit from this fuel segment in North America.

It also resonates with comments made by CEO Tadeu Marroco, who declared six months ago that there was "no future" in the fuels category. 

In the vape segment - where BAT claims to be the world leader with a 41% market share by value - plethoric competition, counterfeits and illicit products are preventing the formation of a lucrative market.

In this respect, and notwithstanding the irony of the situation, the tobacco company is calling for tighter regulation. Connoisseurs of the genre will appreciate his lobbying efforts.

The heating tobacco segment is faltering, with volumes down for glo, while the dynamic is barely better in the oral segment with Velo. BAT suffers here from the comparison with Philip Morris, which is doing very well with its IQOS and Zyn brands. 

In short, the structural decline of BAT's core business is accelerating, and its NGP category is struggling to take off. The sum of these two trends clearly justifies the current valuation.

Otherwise, financial targets are maintained. The dividend - 9.6% yield at the current price - remains untouchable, while the monetization of part of BAT's stake in the Indian conglomerate ITC enables the launch of a timid £1.6 billion share buyback program through to the end of 2025.

Tadeu Marroco promises to reduce leverage to x2 or x2.5 EBITDA by the end of the year. MarketScreener analysts' intuition is that it is better to play it safe, and retain the upper limit of this forecast.