Dr Moira Gilchrist, PMI's VP of Strategic and Scientific Communications
You ask, we answer.
In New York, during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), PMI's Dr Moira Gilchrist answers some of our most commonly asked questions on Twitter.
It's Time to talk - here’s the full rundown of our Twitter followers’ questions and Dr Moira’s responses:
Why not withdraw cigarettes immediately or set a date?
I wish it was that simple. But let’s look at this logically. If we, as a single company, were to withdraw our cigarettes from the market, the only thing that would happen is that adult smokers would buy other brands of cigarettes instead.
Why doesn’t PMI launch smoke-free products in every country in the world?
This is something we’re very conscious of. Tobacco harm reduction and smoke-free products are for all adult smokers who would otherwise continue smoking. We have an ambitious vision to replace cigarettes with smoke-free alternatives as soon as possible, wherever we operate.
We understand the skepticism, but it’s not about trusting us, it’s about trusting the science.
How is the public expected to trust PMI?
We understand the skepticism, but it’s not about trusting us, it’s about trusting the science. And we follow the rules and regulations that have been put in place across the world, and specifically here in the US by the FDA. We’ve done that.
Let’s assume your efforts are genuine. Shouldn’t we just trust governments and other health organizations to get people to quit?
We can all agree that people shouldn’t start smoking and those who do should quit tobacco and nicotine altogether. But the fact is that most people don’t. So we see this as complementary to what governments and public health communities are already doing around the world.
Why don’t you just leave smokers alone if it’s their choice to smoke?
I was a smoker myself and yet, knowing the dangers, I continued. The approach we’re taking at PMI is to understand that it can be difficult to quit, encourage people to quit, but then also encourage those who don’t quit to make better choices than continuing to smoke.
Why place smoke-free products on the market before studying the impact of them over a longer period of time?
Here is the dilemma, if you like. With the knowledge we have and the scientific results to date, it would be irresponsible of us not to launch these products for smokers who don’t quit. All the evidence shows they are a better choice to continued smoking. If we don’t tell people that these products are different to cigarettes after putting them on the market, how can we encourage existing adult smokers who don’t quit to switch?