LONDON: US tobacco giant Philip Morris International is fighting to get Britain, France and other countries to make it easier to promote alternatives to cigarettes such as heated tobacco and vaping.
PMI embarked on a strategic shift six years ago to become a smoke-free company, against a backdrop of increasingly stringent regulations in many countries, costly lawsuits and falling smoking rates.
The group has injected more than $10 billion into new products, which now account for a third of its $32 billion sales for the financial year 2022.
It has a very limited presence in the vaping e-cigarette market. But in the UK, the promotion of conventional or heated tobacco is forbidden, while gleaming e-cigarette stores are popping up all over the place.
In countries where “alternatives” are not allowed, such as Turkey, Belgium or Singapore, PMI has no plans to move away from conventional cigarettes.
Stopping the sale of traditional cigarettes will “make Philip Morris look better” but not affect the one billion smokers who can “continue buying a product from somebody else”, chief executive Jacek Olczak told AFP.
Instead, he wants to “convince the governments... (to) allow the alternatives and we can start reducing the sale of cigarettes much faster.”
In countries open to alternatives, he sees this deadline within 10 years.
“Our vision is of a smoke-free future,” he added.