Philip Morris International mentions it will stop selling Marlboro cigarettes in Britain within a decade after being called on by the UK government to ban the sale of its tobacco products.
The remarks come amid dropping smoker numbers in the United Kingdom. The country has seen cigarettes been in plain packaging since 2016 — and a broader push by the UK government to diminish the prevalence of smoking.
Many investors have already taken off tobacco from their portfolios, and many financial institutions have committed to implementing tobacco-free policies.
Philip Morris International (PM) CEO Jacek Olczak shared with the Sunday Telegraph that the UK government should consider cigarettes like gasoline-powered cars, the trade of which is due to be banned from 2030.
The company, however, added in a statement on Monday that it “can see a world without cigarettes.”
“The sooner it happens, the better it is for everyone,” said vice president of strategic and scientific communications Moira Gilchrist. “With the right measures in place, [Philip Morris] can stop selling cigarettes in the UK in 10 years’ time,” she mentioned.
As reported by the World Health Organization, smoking, including inhaling smoke second-hand, kills more than 8 million people every year. The data is compared with about 4.1 million recorded Covid-19 deaths to date.
Philip Morris International, which was disjointed from New York-listed Altria (MO) in 2008, has capitalized $8 billion and appointed dozens of scientists and technicians to develop lower-risk alternatives to cigarettes, comprising its flagship IQOS product, which heats tobacco instead of burning it.
“Quitting is the best option, but for those who don’t, science and technology has allowed companies like ours to create better alternatives to continued smoking,” Gilchrist mentioned. The company plans to creäte more than 50% of net revenue from smoke-free products within four years, up from about a quarter presently.
This month, Phillip Morris International declared that it had agreed to a $1.2 billion deal to purchase UK asthma inhaler maker Vectura. The tobacco company mentioned in a statement that the transaction was a part of its “Beyond Nicotine” strategy.
Anti-tobacco activists expressed their skepticism over the company’s plans on Monday. Critics have long questioned how dedicated the tobacco industry is to change, given its previous propaganda to protect its interests.
“Philip Morris has claimed that it wants to see the end of smoking for years now, but how can such claims be taken seriously from a company which sells more than one in ten cigarettes smoked worldwide?,” the CEO of UK public health charity Action on Smoking and Health, Deborah Arnott, mentioned in a statement on Monday.
She added that “fine words” are not the answer and that companies like Philip Morris should fund government-backed campaigns to dampen smoking and help smokers quit.
The UK government shared its ambition in 2019 to terminate smoking in England by 2030. Last year it launched its “Roadmap to a Smokefree 2030,” which comprises a proposal to accommodate tobacco manufacturers to fund support for smokers to quit.