The facts: Why it is right for us to engage with society

13 Aug 2019 · 3 min read
We don’t usually comment on PR campaigns by anti-tobacco organizations: We’re trying to stop people smoking, while they’re trying to stop us.
Rose McGowan PMI Open Mic Cannes Lions

But some of these organizations are spreading falsehoods in an effort to scare others, including those who – like us – attended the 2019 Cannes Lions Festival with open minds and a focus on the future.

In 2016, we pledged to make the world smoke-free and PMI went to Cannes to help change the lives of one billion people who smoke. We want to inspire the best creative brains on the most robust platforms to join us on this mission. We can’t do this alone.

Unfortunately, some organizations don’t want to talk about better solutions for smokers. This leaves smokers with only one choice: quit entirely or continue smoking cigarettes. In creating this latest propaganda campaign against so-called “Big Tobacco”, these organizations are creating a fog of misinformation and confusion.

Smokers deserve accurate information about all of the options available to them, which include alternatives that present less risk of harm. They deserve reasoned debate, not dogma.

It’s time to clear up the facts:

  •  PMI does not own any stake in Juul. Altria does. PMI and Altria have been separate companies for over a decade. For these organizations to assert otherwise is either lazy or a deliberate attempt to mislead.
  •  We do not market our products in the US. Only in April 2019 did the FDA authorize IQOS for sale in the US, after a rigorous, two-year review of the evidence. The FDA concluded that allowing IQOS for sale would be “appropriate for the protection of public health”.
  •  We set high standards for ourselves, and our company policies on social-media influencers often go even further than the law requires. An example: We were alerted to a single case in Russia where our policy was not followed – the influencer was 21, had an Instagram following that is 95 percent aged 18 or over and published just one post. However, our internal policy mandates that influencers we work with be 25 or older. Our response was swift and decisive – no law was broken, but we suspended all product-related influencer activity globally. It is that important to us that we do not in any way market to youth.
  •  Finally, PMI does not want people to start smoking. Neither do we want non-smokers or youths to use tobacco or nicotine products.

The question of why these organizations or their leaders do this – rather than engaging in the search for solutions for smokers – remains unanswered. Is their core business objective to attack Philip Morris International? We have to ask: what’s more important, hating us or helping smokers? Is this kind of behavior tolerated for other industries or companies who are trying to change?

It’s time to end this noise. We will not accept the hyperbole, inaccuracies and ill-informed diatribes about our company. It’s time for an adult conversation.