Video source: YouTube, Philip Morris International
Philip Morris International Inc (NYSE: Chart PM - $92.60 1.39 (1.496%) ) — the company behind the iconic Marlboro brand — plans to stop selling cigarettes in the UK within 10 years, according to the tobacco group’s chief executive officer Jacek Olczak.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Olczak said the company wants to phase out the sale of traditional cigarettes and focus more on smoke-free, modern alternatives, like e-cigarettes and heated tobacco devices.
“The first choice for consumers is they should quit smoking,” he said. “But if they don't, the second best choice is to let them switch to the better alternatives.'
The UK government has already pledged to end smoking in England as part of an effort to improve public health and reduce preventable illnesses.
Olczak told the Daily Mail he believes 10 years is long enough to “completely solve the problem of smoking” in the UK.
When asked if that meant the company would stop selling traditional cigarettes in the UK within that time frame, Olczak replied, “Absolutely.”
Moira Gilchrist, head of global scientific communications at Philip Morris International, told CNBC on Monday, that the company can “see a world without cigarettes.”
“The sooner it happens, the better it is for everyone. Quitting is the best option, but for those who don’t, science and technology has allowed companies like ours to create better alternatives to continued smoking,” Gilchrist said. “Encouraging people who don’t quit to switch to these better alternatives, together with strong regulation will help solve the problem of cigarette smoking once and for all.”
Earlier this month, Philip Morris International announced the $1.2 billion acquisition of British pharmaceutical company Vectura Group, which specializes in inhaled medicines for conditions like asthma.
It also reached an agreement to acquire Fertin Pharma A/S, a nicotine gum maker, for $820 million.
The acquisitions are part of Philip Morris International's reinvention as it abandons traditional tobacco products.
Olczak, who became the company's chief executive officer in May, said he plans to lead the company's "smoke-free" transformation. He also wants to help provide "less harmful alternatives to cigarettes" to the millions of people who would otherwise still smoke.
The company unveiled a goal in February to generate more than 50% of total net revenue from smoke-free products by 2025. The company also aims to earn at least $1 billion in net revenues by 2025 just from its “Beyond Nicotine” products, such as respiratory drug delivery and “selfcare wellness.”
Anti-smoking groups and healthcare organizations pointed out that Philip Morris International has made similar promises in the past but has made few, if any, substantive changes.
Back in 2016, Philip Morris International’s former Chief Executive André Calantzopoulos said he hoped the company would stop selling cigarettes entirely.
Health advocates have also accused Big Tobacco of hypocrisy, claiming to be in favor of a smoke-free world while still profiting from cigarettes and other harmful products.
Smoking, including second-hand, kills more than 8 million people each year, making tobacco use “one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced,” according to the World Health Organization.
Most heated tobacco products and e-cigarettes still contain nicotine, an addictive chemical, but more research is needed to understand short- and long-term health effects, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
Source: Equities News