Philip Morris International, the tobacco giant behind Marlboro and other leading brands, is hoping to phase out manufacturing cigarettes entirely and move into smoke-free products only.
The New York-based multibillion-dollar company announced that they’ve chosen to do “something really big” by moving away from cigarette production and placing emphasis on electronic substitutes instead.
The company is currently focusing on IQOS, a device that heats tobacco rather than burning it. It claims the product can potentially reduce the number of noxious chemicals found in cigarette smoke by 95 percent, although research is still being conducted.
“If we stop selling cigarettes, some else is going to sell them because people buy them,” Andre Calantzopoulos, CEO of Phillip Morris International, told Sky News. “So I don’t think that will have any impact on public health or the health of people.
“At the end of the day, the ambition we have is to replace cigarettes as soon as possible, with better alternatives for the people who continue smoking.”
In a report published March 2018, British government agency Public Health England (PHE) found that while heated tobacco products are likely to have lower levels of harmful compounds compared to cigarette smoke, the “limited evidence” currently available suggests that are more harmful than e-cigarettes. PHE suggested that more research is needed to be carried out on IQOS in order to make a fairer comparison.
Phillip Morris International currently sells other smoke-free products, including e-cigarettes, and have not yet given an indication as to when they hope to move entirely off tobacco-based products.
On its website, the Philip Morris International further explains its reasoning for moving away from cigarettes after the products helped them become one of the biggest companies on the planet.
“We understand the millions of men and women who smoke cigarettes,” the company said. “They are looking for less harmful, yet satisfying, alternatives to smoking. We will give them that choice.
“We have a commitment to our employees and our shareholders. We will fulfill that commitment by pursuing this long-term vision for success.
“Society expects us to act responsibly. And we are doing just that by designing a smoke-free future.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco use causes nearly 6 million deaths per year worldwide, with 480,000 deaths occurring in the U.S every year—a figure that equates to nearly 1,300 deaths every day in the U.S.