In full-page ads in papers around the UK, PMI says they are “trying to give up cigarettes”
Philip Morris International has been making headlines over the last six months after making several claims that they’d be working toward phasing out traditional cigarettes. Their latest was published in several large UK based papers in a full-page ad format. The ads say that they are working toward building a smoke-free future, and they’d like to stop selling traditional cigarettes altogether eventually. These claims have gotten many people wondering if they actually mean what they say, or if they’re just using the cultural push away from cigarettes to their advantage. While it’s fair to be skeptical, the truth is that it appears PMI sees the writing on the wall.
Over the last year, Philip Morris has taken several steps toward being sustainable into the future. The largest of these actions was their pledge to donate 80 million dollars a year for the next 12 years to help set up the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World. They even got renowned tobacco control expert and advocate Derek Yach to be the president and run the new foundation. According to Yach, this is a rare opportunity where what’s best for the health of the public is also what makes the most sustainable sense for Big Tobacco. As such, he feels that it’s in our best interest to try cooperation over skepticism and work together to help smokers switch to less much less harmful products like e-cigarettes and heat-not-burn devices. Along with their full page ads, PMI has also published a more in-depth breakdown of their new position on their website.
Philip Morris’ Manifesto
In what they’re calling their “manifesto,” Philip Morris International has made some bold claims about the future of tobacco and their place in it. They start off by admitting that they have built one of the largest and most well-known cigarette companies in the world, but that it’s time to build their future with the use of smoke-free products and devices. They even go as far as to say that their “vision” is that one day these smoke-free alternatives will fully replace cigarettes. According to their manifesto, they now have to ability to provide “less harmful, yet satisfying, alternatives to smoking.” Acknowledging their commitment to their employees and shareholders, PMI seems resigned to the fact that vaping will one day eliminate smoking, making smoke-free alternatives the best way for them to stay profitable.
They claim that their massive resource pool will allow them to move forward on this new goal, providing a high-quality product that is drastically less dangerous than cigarettes. The manifesto concludes with a line about how times are always changing. “In changing times, you can always choose to do nothing. Instead, we’ve set a new course for the company. We’ve chosen to do something really big.” While their reasoning may still be based on profits and sustainability, those goals are for once lined up with what’s best for the health of the general public. So while it’s fair to be wary of PMI and their business practices, they are seemingly preparing for what the future holds.
It’s entirely fair to be skeptical of PMI’s claims that they are going to give up selling cigarettes altogether. But between their billion dollar pledge to set up a vaping research foundation, and their latest claims in UK papers, it’s clear that they are taking the rise of e-cigarettes very seriously. When you take into consideration what Derek Yach said about PMI’s latest moves, it starts to feel more true than it seems fake. After all, PMI is a vast corporation whose primary goal is making money and doing so in a sustainable way. With smoking rates continuing to decline at rapid rates, even faster among teens, Philip Morris is just the first Big Tobacco company to fully accept that the future of their business is vastly different than it once seemed.
To that end, they’re looking to make a more significant push into the vaping industry, starting with their iQOS products already prevalent in many Asian countries. While this is ostensibly a good thing, it may lead to Big Tobacco dominating and killing independent vaping businesses. So anything said by PMI must still be taken with a grain of salt. At best they’re looking to strong-arm their way into an industry built to destroy them, and at worst they’re actually planning something much more nefarious. It wouldn’t be out of their character; Big Tobacco companies famously spend nearly 50 years actively fighting the science that proved cigarettes kill millions of people every year. So, for now, we can relish in the fact that smoking is on such a decline that even Big Tobacco companies are starting to distance themselves. But we can’t let our guard down, or we might just let PMI and the other culprits off the hook for all of the death and disease they’ve caused.
Do you believe that Philip Morris is actually going to stop selling cigarettes eventually? Do you think it would be a mistake to let Big Tobacco gain more market share in the vaping industry? How can we be sure that they aren’t hiding their true intentions from the public? Let us know in the comments.