Our history

We were created in 1999 when Japan Tobacco Inc (JT), our parent company, purchased the non-US operations of the multinational R.J. Reynolds for 7.8 billion USD

Our family tree has grown from the most famous tobacco companies around the world

JTI’s global heritage stretches as far back as the late sixteenth century. Austria Tabak was founded by Emperor Joseph II in 1784 and was eventually acquired by Gallaher, by then another member of the JTI family, in 2001. Tom Gallaher had originally set up business in 1857 in Londonderry, in what is now Northern Ireland. A year later, Sir William McDonald established McDonald Brothers & Co in Montreal, Canada, and in 1874, RJR was founded by Richard Joshua Reynolds in Winston, North Carolina, USA. 

Japan in 1898

The reason for our successful, distinctive culture becomes even clearer when you look at the history of our parent company, Japan Tobacco (JT). In 1898, the Japanese government monopolized the exclusive sale of domestic tobacco leaf. Following the extension of the monopoly to all tobacco products, as well as the salt business in the early 1900s, the Japan Tobacco and Salt Public Corporation (JTS) was established in 1949 to help ensure stable supplies and tax revenues for the government. 

In 1984, legislation was passed that changed Japan’s monopolies and public corporations. In the following year, JT was created, taking over the business operations and assets of JTS. 

Global ambitions

With ambitions to become a global company, JT was eager both to broaden the company’s brand portfolio and increase its spread of international markets. This led to the acquisition of several companies worldwide, most notably R.J. Reynolds (RJRI) in 1999 and Gallaher in 2007. At the time, the RJRI move was the largest overseas acquisition ever undertaken by a Japanese company; this record was subsequently broken again by JTI when it purchased the FTSE 100-listed Gallaher, for 9.4 billion GBP.   

JT’s acquisition of RJRI effectively created JTI, whilst the later integration of Gallaher doubled it in size. We made full use of the broad range of skills and experience that the personnel of both companies brought to the table, and, as significantly, also focused on the prestigious brands that made the companies such a success.

Our strategy continues to make the most of our assets through a long-term focus on building brand equity with emphasis on our nine Global Flagship Brands – Winston, Mevius, LD, Camel, Sobranie, Glamour, Silk Cut, Benson & Hedges, and Natural American Spirit.


nationalities within our workforce


nationalities represented on our Executive Committee