Better alternatives to cigarettes exist. This cannot be kept secret. Those adults who would otherwise continue to smoke have the right to know about, and choose, these better products.
Philip Morris International has committed to stop selling cigarettes. We are the only tobacco company to have made that pledge. In 2016, we announced our new purpose: to deliver a smoke-free future by focusing our resources on developing, scientifically substantiating, and responsibly commercializing smoke-free products that are less harmful than continued smoking. We aim to completely replace cigarettes with these products as soon as possible. The faster we progress, the faster hundreds of millions of men and women will leave cigarettes behind for good. This purpose is about those people.
Change is hard, but the opportunity before us is immense. By ending cigarettes, all stakeholders acting together have a chance to help bring about one of the most impactful advances in public health this century.
Our message is simple and reflects our central corporate positions:
- If you don’t smoke, don’t start.
- If you smoke, quit.
- If you don’t quit, change.
We all know the best choice is never to start smoking. For those who do smoke, the best choice is to quit tobacco and nicotine altogether. But in any given year, more than nine out of 10 smokers don’t quit. These people deserve better. They deserve to know about the smoke-free alternatives that science and technology have made possible – and are a much better choice than continued smoking. Already, more than 10 million adults have switched completely from cigarettes to our heated tobacco product. This is an incredible milestone – and one achieved in less than five years. But we need to move faster. There is so much more progress to be made.
What is impeding progress to a smoke-free future? Ironically, the biggest obstacles are being laid down by a well-funded faction of special-interest groups opposed to better choices for adults who won’t quit. Rather than encouraging our purpose and welcoming our achievements, they are doing all they can to stop the hundreds of millions of adults who would otherwise continue to smoke from switching to better nicotine-containing products.
We fully understand and accept that our industry will be subject to intense scrutiny, skepticism, and challenges. It is one reason our science is open to all and why we call again and again for transparent debate. What we cannot understand is why this minority faction – who claim to want to reduce the harm caused by cigarettes – is willing to put dogma and entrenched prejudices above the needs and rights of hundreds of millions of men and women who smoke. Rather than helping these people leave cigarettes behind faster, this faction has started a crusade that aims to stop these people from both learning about and accessing better alternatives.
It is time to put the men and women who smoke first. The prohibitionists need to embrace debate, not quash it. They need to stop sowing confusion, and instead promote clarity and transparency. And they need to shine a light on science and facts, rather than cloud them in a shroud of misinformation.
The facts are simple: Better alternatives to cigarettes exist. Without access to them, many millions of adults will continue to smoke. And a public health opportunity will be lost, perhaps for a generation. Whom should the public hold accountable for the failure to do better for a billion people?
We invite everyone to join us in open dialogue. Instead of trying to delay the inevitable progress that science and technology are bringing, why not help to accelerate it? Engage with us. Let us know how we can get better at delivering better.