PMI: A company delivering a smoke-free future29 May 2019 · 3 min read
The name “Philip Morris International” or “PMI” probably brings to mind terms like “tobacco company” and “cigarette manufacturer.” But today, we are much more than that. In fact, we are transforming our company and staking our future on replacing cigarettes with smoke-free alternatives.
Why are we doing this? Because it’s the right thing to do. Approximately one billion people worldwide smoke cigarettes and, according to the World Health Organization, that number will be roughly the same in 2025. We want to offer adult smokers who do not quit better alternatives to continued smoking. To achieve this, we've invested more than USD 12.5 billion in the research, scientific substantiation, and commercialization of our smoke-free products.
Providing alternatives: Acting now for a smoke-free future
These billion-plus adult smokers aren’t just numbers. They might be your friends, family, or neighbors. Measures to deter initiation and encourage cessation are fundamental. There is no disagreement there. The best option is to quit tobacco and nicotine altogether or even better—not to start. But for the large majority of existing adult smokers who’d otherwise continue smoking, there has to be a sensible plan. And in a world where smoking is a fact of life, we cannot simply ignore the compelling scientific evidence: scientifically substantiated less harmful products than cigarettes are now available to adult smokers who otherwise would continue smoking.
Chief Executive Officer, Philip Morris International
The science behind our smoke-free products:
There is no debate that smoking is harmful or that nicotine is addictive. What matters is what the consumer is exposed to. For example, there is a huge difference between smoke from a burning cigarette and the aerosol from a heated tobacco product. It’s the burning process that creates the vast majority of the harmful and potentially harmful chemicals that are the primary causes of smoking-related diseases.
If science validates that there is a difference between products, shouldn’t smoke-free alternatives be treated differently? And shouldn’t the millions of men and women now smoking cigarettes know about those differences? Can you imagine the criticism that PMI would face if, at some point in the future, it was discovered that we had better alternatives to continued smoking to offer adult smokers, but had left them in the laboratory?
Transformation can’t happen without conversation
While PMI’s commitment to a smoke-free future is unwavering, and we have robust science on our side, we cannot make this journey alone. For too long, the debate around smoking has been polarized, which has led to paralysis. Without a willingness by world leaders, governments, regulators, and NGOs to look dispassionately at the scientific evidence in favor of smoke-free alternatives compared to continued smoking, transformative change will not come quickly. In the U.S., the U.K., New Zealand, and Sweden, there is a growing acknowledgement that smoke-free alternatives to cigarettes can complement existing health policies focused on prevention and cessation.
Those who are still in opposition should be aware that they are becoming disablers of public health solutions. They are blocking change, potentially denying adult smokers both access to accurate information about these smoke-free alternatives, and the opportunity to switch to them if they do not quit. This is a real opportunity.
We must seize it—and seize it together. The emotional rhetoric against the industry—which ignores scientific facts—is not helping the world’s one billion-plus adult smokers. Let's have a more open-minded debate to make a smoke-free future a reality.