PMI: Accelerating the decline of cigarettes

14 Sep 2022
Our independently audited figures reveal a steady reduction in the shipment volumes of our cigarettes, alongside a steady rise in the shipment volumes of our heated tobacco units.

We’re often asked if we’re serious about ending the sale of cigarettes.

The answer? Unequivocally yes, we are.

Accelerating the decline in cigarettes


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Philip Morris International (PMI) recognizes that a decline in the sales volume of our cigarettes—and more broadly, our combustible product portfolio—is an imperative component of our ambition to deliver a smoke-free future.

And we’re making rapid progress toward that goal.

Data from our publicly available disclosures reveal a consistent downward trajectory in the sales volume of our cigarettes over the past decade.

Cigarette shipment volume has fallen from 915 billion units in 2011 to 621 billion units in 2022, with an annual decline every year for the past 10 years.

Furthermore, we have set a goal for PMI’s total combustible product shipment volume to be less than 550 billion units in 2025—an ambition included in our 2021 Integrated Report.

PMI’s cigarette shipment volume has fallen from 915 billion units in 2011 to 621 billion units in 2022.

They clearly refute disinformation spread by some anti-tobacco organizations that our cigarette shipment volume is rising.

Investing in a world without cigarettes

Our aim is to ultimately replace cigarettes with smoke-free alternatives.

Since 2008, we have invested more than USD 10.5 billion behind these innovative products, in research, product development, production capacity, scientific substantiation, and studies on adult smoker understanding.

It’s an investment that’s paying off—with the increasing number of adult smokers switching to our heated tobacco products contributing to the decline we’re seeing in cigarette shipment volume.

As of December 31, 2022, approximately 17.8 million adult smokers had switched to our flagship smoke-free alternative and stopped smoking.1

The shipment volume of our heated tobacco units—the consumable element of our leading smoke-free product—has risen from 7 billion in 2016 to 109.2 billion in 2022.

These figures are the facts, transparently published every year by our company and available for everyone to access.

We’re always clear that while the best choice for any smoker is to quit tobacco and nicotine altogether, scientifically substantiated smoke-free products are a better choice for those adults who would otherwise continue smoking.

“Philip Morris International unilaterally stopping the sale of cigarettes tomorrow simply won’t change a thing,” says Moira Gilchrist, PMI’s Vice President of Strategic and Scientific Communications. “Because that doesn’t eliminate the demand for cigarettes. The demand will remain, and others will simply fill it, whether competitors or participants in the illicit market.

“Our transformation makes much more sense, because what we’re working on is reducing the demand for cigarettes over the long term, thereby making sure that the decline in cigarette smoking continues—and even hopefully accelerates further.”

“The numbers are impossible to ignore”

Through our commitment to delivering smoke-free innovations, we are making significant strides in bringing a world without cigarettes to fruition.

“The numbers are impossible to ignore,” says Stefano Volpetti, PMI’s President, Smoke-Free Inhaled Products & Chief Consumer Officer.2 “They paint a clear picture of the change we’re driving—firstly, in delivering a range of better alternatives to adult smokers and, secondly, in accelerating the end of cigarettes.

Our science substantiates that PMI’s smoke-free products—while not risk-free—are a much better choice than cigarettes for adults who would otherwise continue to smoke.

“With support from the industry, stakeholders, and civil society, we believe that cigarette sales can end in many countries within 10 to 15 years. That would be a monumental achievement for the world’s one billion smokers, for global public health, and for our company.”



This article was updated on Feb 16, 2023 to reflect the Full-Year 2022 results.

As of December 31, 2022, PMI estimates that approximately 17.8 million adults across 73 markets had already switched to our leading heated tobacco product, and stopped smoking. User metrics reflect PMI estimates, which are based on consumer claims and sample-based statistical assessments with an average margin of error of +/-5% at a 95% Confidence Interval in key volume markets. The accuracy and reliability of user metrics may vary based on individual market maturity and availability of information.

2 Stefano Volpetti's role has been updated to reflect the fact that on Jan 1, 2023, he became President, Smoke-Free Inhaled Products & Chief Consumer Officer. At the time of publication, he was Chief Consumer Officer.