It wants smokers to switch to better options instead and has spent £2.5bn on research and development
Tobacco giant Philip Morris prompted headlines around the world when it placed full page adverts in the UK press announcing its New Year’s resolution to stop selling cigarettes in the UK.
When one of the world’s biggest tobacco companies announces “We’re trying to give up smoking” then people tend to take notice.
The advert says: “Our ambition is to stop selling cigarettes in the UK. It won’t be easy but we are determined to turn our vision into reality.”
Instead of the traditional cigarette market, Philip Morris is concentrating on both e-cigarettes and heated tobacco which it says offer “a better choice for the millions of men and women in the UK who would otherwise not stop smoking.”
The company has invested £2.5 billion to date on research and development and says that as a result of its actions in introducing new products in many countries around the world “millions of adult smokers have abandoned cigarettes and switched to better options.”
The advert went on: “No cigarette company has done anything like this before. You might wonder if we really mean it. We do.”
The advertisement titled “Our New Year’s Resolution: we’re trying to give up cigarettes,” ran on January 2 in a number of national newspapers and the story was soon picked up by media, both online and offline, around the world.
In addition, the advertisement makes a number of specific commitments for the UK for 2018:
- Launch a website and campaign to provide smokers with information on quitting and on alternatives to cigarettes;
- Offer to support Local Authority cessation services where smoking rates are highest;
- Seek Government approval to insert, directly into our cigarette packs, information on quitting and on switching;
- Expand the availability of new, alternative products in the UK.
Philip Morris Ltd UK Managing Director Peter Nixon has also written to Prime Minister Theresa May outlining how the company believes they can play a part in helping Britain to go smoke free.
He said: “We believe we have an important role to play in helping the UK become smoke-free. The commitments announced today are practical steps that could accelerate that goal.
“We recognise that never starting to smoke – or quitting altogether – are always the best option. But for those who continue to smoke, there are more alternatives than ever available in the UK.”
The advertisement also encourages adult smokers to visit a new website – www.smokefreefuture.co.uk – which contains information on quitting smoking and on switching to better options.
The SmokeFreeFuture website, says: “Our aim is to replace cigarettes with smoke-free products that are a better choice than continuing to smoke.
“Smoking causes serious disease and is addictive. The best decision for health is not to start, or to quit altogether.
“At Philip Morris Ltd, our goal is to replace cigarettes with smoke-free products that are a better choice than continuing to smoke. We want that to happen as soon as possible. But there is no substitute for quitting completely and for good.
There are many ways to quit smoking. And there’s a lot of useful information that’s available to you. That’s why we created this site…as a resource for information that might help you learn more about quitting.”
The site goes on to list many of the benefits of quitting smoking and contains links to the NHS Stop Smoking Service.
It also lists better alternatives to smoking such as heated tobacco products and e-cigarettes.
Regarding heated tobacco it says:
“Recently, heated tobacco has become very successful in several countries such as Japan. But here in the UK, few smokers know about these products.
Cigarettes burn. Heated tobacco doesn’t. Without burning, there is no smoke. Instead, there’s a nicotine-containing aerosol that has much lower amounts of harmful chemicals than in cigarette smoke.
Heated tobacco products are not risk free. They deliver nicotine and are addictive. They’re only for adults who smoke – not former smokers or for people who have never smoked.”
And in the e-cigarette section it gives a basic overview of vaping products and says:
“For many smokers, the nicotine in an e-cigarette is important to completely switch away from smoking.
In 2015, an expert review for the Government by Public Health England concluded that e-cigarettes present a fraction of the risk of smoking – but that many smokers don’t realise this. Approximately, 1.5 million adults in the UK have switched to e-cigarettes and given up cigarette smoking.”
A spokesman for Philip Morris International (PMI) said:
“PMI has made a commitment to develop, market, and sell smoke-free alternatives, and encourage adult smokers who would otherwise continue to smoke to switch to these alternatives, as quickly as possible around the world.”