The remarks come against the backdrop of dwindling smoking rates in the UK – where cigarettes have been sold in plain packs since 2016 – and a wider push by the UK government to reduce smoking prevalence.
Many investors have already removed tobacco from their portfolios and a growing number of financial institutions have committed to tobacco free policies.
Philip Morris International (PN) CEO Jacek Olczak told the Sunday Telegraph that the UK government should treat cigarettes like gasoline-powered cars, the sale of which is to be banned from 2030.
The company added in a statement Monday that it “can see a world without cigarettes”.
“The sooner it happens, the better it is for everyone,” said Moira Gilchrist, vice president of strategic and scientific communications. “With the right measures [Philip Morris] may stop selling cigarettes in the UK in 10 years, “she added.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 8 million people die each year from smoking – including second-hand smoke inhalation. This compares with around 4.1 million registered Covid-19 deaths so far.
Philip Morris International, which was separated from the New York Stock Exchange Altria (MO) Invested $ 8 billion in 2008 and hired dozens of scientists and engineers to develop lower-risk alternatives to cigarettes, including its flagship product, IQOS, which heats tobacco instead of burning it.
“Quitting is the best option, but for those who don’t, science and technology have enabled companies like ours to develop better alternatives to smoking,” said Gilchrist. The company aims to generate more than 50% of net sales with smoke-free products within four years, currently around a quarter.
Earlier this month, Phillip Morris International announced that it had struck a $ 1.2 billion deal to purchase UK asthma inhaler maker Vectura. The tobacco company said in a statement that the transaction was part of its “Beyond Nicotine” strategy.
Tobacco activists on Monday expressed skepticism about the company’s plans. Critics have long questioned how committed the tobacco industry is, given its past use of propaganda to protect its interests in change.
“Philip Morris has claimed to want to quit for years, but how can such claims be taken seriously by a company that sells more than one in ten cigarettes smoked worldwide?”, Deborah Arnott, CEO of UK public health organization Action on Smoking and Health said in a statement Monday.
She added that “nice words” are not the solution and that companies like Philip Morris should fund government-sponsored campaigns to discourage smoking and to help smokers quit.
In 2019, the UK government announced its goal to quit smoking in England by 2030. Last year she presented her “Roadmap to a Smokefree 2030”, which contains a proposal to oblige tobacco manufacturers to fund support for smokers in quitting.
– Lauren Gunn contributed to the coverage.
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