Our History

The First 100 Years


The history of what is now a global company can be traced back to Mr. Philip Morris’s 1847 opening of a single shop on London’s Bond Street, selling tobacco and ready-made cigarettes.

On Mr. Morris’s death, the business was taken over by his wife Margaret and his brother Leopold. In 1881 the Company went public, Leopold Morris joining Joseph Grunebaum to establish Philip Morris & Company and Grunebaum, Ltd. This partnership was dissolved in 1885 and the Company became known as Philip Morris & Co., Ltd.

The Company finally left the founding family’s control in 1894, when it was taken over by William Curtis Thomson and his family. Under Thomson, the Company was appointed tobacconist to King Edward VII and, in 1902, was incorporated in New York, by Gustav Eckmeyer. Ownership was split 50-50 between the British parent and American partners. Eckmeyer had been sole agent for Philip Morris in the U.S. since 1872, importing and selling English-made cigarettes.

1919 was a crucial year for the Company. It saw the introduction of the Philip Morris coronet logo, the acquisition of the Philip Morris Company in the U.S. by a new firm owned by American shareholders, and its incorporation in Virginia under the name of Philip Morris & Co., Ltd., Inc. By the end of the next decade, the Company had begun to manufacture cigarettes in its factory in Richmond, Virginia; in 1924, what was to become its most famous brand, Marlboro, was introduced.

By the mid-1950s the Company had become a part of American culture, and soon after it launched Philip Morris International (PMI) to manufacture and market its products around the world.

55 Years of PMI



Philip Morris (Australia) becomes the first affiliate of Philip Morris Companies Inc. outside of the U.S.


Philip Morris Overseas is established as an international division


The first Marlboro cigarettes manufactured outside the U.S. are produced following an agreement with Fabriques de Tabac Réunies in Switzerland

This manufacturing facility is subsequently acquired by Philip Morris in 1963


Philip Morris Incorporated establishes Philip Morris Domestic, Philip Morris International (PMI), and Philip Morris Industrial, each responsible for three identifiable operations of its business


Marlboro becomes the world’s number one selling cigarette

Volume reaches 113 billion units as international expansion accelerates

License agreement with Japan Tobacco to begin manufacture of Marlboro in Japan


International cigarette sales reach 124 billion units, versus 123 billion in the U.S.


Licensingtorg, representing the Soviet tobacco industry, and PMI sign an agreement for local production of PMI brands


PMI is incorporated as an operating company of Philip Morris Companies Inc.


PMI operating income tops USD 1 billion for the first time


PMI moves from Park Avenue in New York City to Rye Brook, N.Y., U.S. 


PMI volume tops 400 billion cigarettes


PMI acquires a majority holding in state-owned Czech Republic Tabak AS for USD 420 million in the largest single investment by a U.S. company in central Europe at the time

In the early 1990’s PMI participates in other state factory privatizations including in Kazakhstan, Lithuania, and Hungary


PMI opens first factory in Asia in Seremban, Malaysia


PMI calls for regulation of the tobacco industry at the World Health Organization’s public hearings on the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control in Geneva, Switzerland


PMI operations center transfers from Rye Brook, N.Y., U.S., to Lausanne, Switzerland


PMI operating income reaches USD 5.7 billion, more than a hundredfold increase over 1970


PMI opens a factory in the Philippines, the Company’s largest investment in Asia at the time

PMI’s product sales represent almost 14% of the global cigarette market outside of the U.S.

PMI acquires majority stake in Papastratos Cigarette Manufacturing S.A., the largest cigarette manufacturer and distributor in Greece

PMI acquires 74.22% of DIN Fabrika Duvana AD Nis in Serbia. As of December 2007 this holding was more than 80%


PMI acquires PT HM Sampoerna Tbk in Indonesia and Compania Colombiana de Tabaco SA (Coltabaco) in Colombia. Both are the largest cigarette manufacturers in their respective countries

PMI takes back license for Marlboro in Japan from JTI

PMI announces an agreement with the China National Tobacco Company (CNTC) for the licensed production of Marlboro in China and the establishment of an international equity joint venture outside of China


Year-end volume stands at 831.4 billion, operating income at USD 8.4 billion, and global market share at 15.4%


PMI acquires an additional 50.2% stake in Lakson Tobacco Company, Pakistan, bringing its total holding to approximately 98%

Year-end volume stands at 850 billion, operating income at USD 8.9 billion, and an estimated global market share at 15.6%


PMI spins off from Altria, becoming the world’s leading international tobacco company and the fourth largest global consumer packaged goods company

PMI acquires Rothmans Inc. of Canada and the fine-cut trademark Interval

Year-end volume stands at 869.8 billion, operating income at USD 10.25 billion, and an estimated global market share at 15.6%


PMI enters into an agreement to establish a joint venture company with Swedish Match AB to commercialize smoke-free tobacco products worldwide, outside of Scandinavia and the United States


PMI announces an agreement with Fortune Tobacco Corporation in the Philippines to unite their respective business activities to form a new company called PMFTC


In June 2011, PMI completed the acquisition of a cigarette business in Jordan, consisting primarily of cigarette manufacturing assets and inventories, for USD 42 million. In January 2011, PMI acquired a cigar business, consisting primarily of trademarks in the Australian and New Zealand markets, for USD 20 million.

Effective January 1, 2011, PMI estab­lished a new business structure with Vietnam National Tobacco Corpora­tion (“Vinataba”) in Vietnam, further developing its existing joint venture with Vinataba through the licensing of Marlboro and establishing a PMI-controlled branch for the building of its brands.


Five years after the spin-off from its parent Company Altria, Philip Morris International is the most profitable publicly traded tobacco company in the world. Operating Income reaches USD 13.8 billion while market share outside the US and China reaches 28.8%.


PMI invests more than USD 500 million to build its first “Reduced-Risk Product” factory in Italy. The factory is dedicated to the manufacture of products that have the potential to reduce individual risk and population harm.

On the environmental front, PMI is recognized by the Carbon Disclosure Project as one of only five Global 500 Consumer Staples companies to be a carbon disclosure leader.

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