A step in the right direction but an opportunity to go further: PMI’s response to the U.K.’s e-cigarette proposal

13 Apr 2023 · 3 min read
We support the U.K.’s commitment to help adult smokers quit cigarettes, but now the government should embrace the full range of science-based alternative products available.
Crowds of people in Whitehall, Westminster, London

Philip Morris International (PMI) welcomes the U.K.’s progressive adoption of e-cigarettes in its efforts to help adult smokers abandon cigarettes. However, we believe there is an opportunity for the government to go further—increasing the likelihood of the U.K. achieving its ambition to become smoke-free by 2030.

Not one single smoke-free product will work for all people. Therefore, we’d encourage the U.K. government to embrace the broad range of better alternatives—including heated tobacco and oral smokeless pouches—that exist to satisfy the diverse taste, usage, technology, and price preferences among adults who would otherwise continue to smoke.

While e-cigarettes can play a key role in efforts to help adult smokers move away from cigarettes—the most harmful form of nicotine consumption—the data shows they do not suit everyone.

For example, in 2021, 68 percent of adult smokers in the U.K. tried e-cigarettes but only 17 percent stuck with them.

At PMI, we understand the importance of choice. It forms the basis of our approach as we accelerate toward delivering a world in which cigarettes no longer exist.

That’s why we’re continuing to grow our multicategory portfolio of science-based better alternatives to cigarettes—from heated tobacco and e-cigarettes to nicotine pouches and other oral smokeless products.

Only by doing this can we successfully help as many adult smokers in as many parts of the world leave cigarettes behind for good.

Opportunity to become a global leader in tobacco harm reduction

If the U.K. government enabled adult smokers who don’t quit with access to all scientifically substantiated smoke-free products, we believe more adults will stop smoking—hence bringing its 2030 smoke-free goal into sharper focus.

“The U.K. has become a global leader in following the science and reducing smoking by embracing new technology,” said Dr. Moira Gilchrist, PMI’s Vice President, Strategic and Scientific Communications*.

“If they don’t quit, adult smokers should be offered the full range of scientifically substantiated smoke-free products—including e-cigarettes, nicotine pouches, oral smokeless, and heated tobacco—which are better alternatives to smoking cigarettes.

“This broader portfolio of smoke-free products will meet a wider group of consumer preferences and increase the chances of smokers switching to less harmful alternatives.”

While the U.K. government’s move to provide one million adult smokers with free e-cigarettes is a step in the right direction, it can seize the chance to be at the vanguard of smoke-free progress by providing access to a wider range of better alternatives.

Dr. Gilchrist added: “This year, the U.K. has the opportunity to become a global leader in tobacco harm reduction and set out an achievable roadmap that embraces innovative, technological, and less harmful alternative solutions to encourage adult smokers who don’t make the best choice to quit, to switch.”


* On January 1, 2024, Dr Moira Gilchrist was appointed Chief Communications Officer.