“Too Much Time Has Been Wasted”: PMI CEO Challenges Governments Across the Globe to Embrace Smoke-Free Alternatives to End Cigarettes Faster
A potential tenfold reduction in smoking-attributable deaths is possible if people who currently smoke were to switch to smoke-free products, Jacek Olczak, CEO of Philip Morris International Inc. (PMI) (NYSE: PM) will state in a speech today. He will explain the role smoke-free products can play in ending cigarette smoking globally and the human consequences of inaction.
“For over a decade, PMI has championed a smoke-free future. Having invested more than $10.5 billion to scientifically research, develop, and commercialize smoke-free products—which today account for more than a third of our total net revenues—we are living this future,” says Olczak. “Yet, inexplicably, there are countries stuck in the past where smokers can easily access cigarettes—the most harmful form of nicotine consumption—but not the better option of smoke-free alternatives.”
Using the World Health Organization’s data, estimates, and methodologies, along with other third-party data, PMI calculated the potential public health impact of the world’s smokers switching from cigarettes to less harmful, smoke-free products. The hypothetical model shows that if smoke-free products are assumed to be 80 percent less risky than cigarettes and if people who currently smoke were to switch to them completely, then over their lifetime, there’s a potential for a tenfold reduction in smoking-attributable deaths compared with historical tobacco control measures alone.
In a world that demands change, people are counting on their governments to keep up with technological advancements while ensuring innovations are appropriately regulated. According to a new international survey conducted by independent research firm Povaddo for PMI, more than half of global respondents (56 percent) believe their government needs to consider the role better alternatives such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products can play in eradicating cigarette use in their country.
Moreover, 8 in 10 global respondents (82 percent) agree they would be somewhat or very angry, frustrated, or upset to learn that a breakthrough that could help address a societal issue was not made available to the public due to government inaction, and 88 percent agree that public health authorities should fully embrace and seek to learn from evidence and data from other countries.
During a streamed broadcast via Reuters’ (@ReutersPlus) on X (formerly Twitter) today at 10am ET, Olczak explains that, while there are limitations to any hypothetical analysis, real-world examples from countries that accept tobacco harm reduction confirm its positive impact.
Public health data show1, for instance, that Sweden has one of the lowest smoking rates in the developed world, at just 5.8 percent. This is largely due to the availability of snus—a moist oral tobacco product—which Swedish men began switching to decades ago. Today, male mortality rates due to tobacco are much lower in Sweden2 compared with other European Union countries, where snus is banned. Putting that in perspective, the Swedish Snus Commission estimates that more than 350,000 smoking-attributable deaths among men could have been avoided each year if the other EU countries had matched Sweden’s tobacco-related mortality rate.
There is also compelling evidence from Japan. In 2019—five years after heated tobacco products were introduced in that country—independent studies3 showed an unprecedented decline in cigarette sales. The U.K., which has adopted smoke-free products to help adults abandon cigarettes, has also seen smoking rates fall significantly.4
“Innovations become advancements when they address existing issues and offer improvements. Decades ago, our industry was challenged to make cigarettes less harmful. We have delivered, creating science-based alternatives that remove combustion, the primary factor in smoking-related disease,” says Olczak. “It is no longer a case of if smoke-free alternatives are better than cigarette smoking; it is a case of by how much.”
Povaddo conducted the online survey on behalf of PMI between March 30 and April 20, 2023. The survey was fielded among 30,591 general population adults aged 21 or older in 15 countries: Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Tunisia, United Kingdom, and United States. Approximately 2,000 interviews were collected in each country. Data have been weighted by age, gender, and nicotine product use per market to match national statistics. Results are accurate to a margin of error of +/- 1 percent.
Philip Morris International: Delivering a Smoke-Free Future
Philip Morris International (PMI) is a leading international tobacco company working to deliver a smoke-free future and evolving its portfolio for the long term to include products outside of the tobacco and nicotine sector. The company’s current product portfolio primarily consists of cigarettes and smoke-free products. Since 2008, PMI has invested more than USD 10.5 billion to develop, scientifically substantiate, and commercialize innovative smoke-free products for adults who would otherwise continue to smoke, with the goal of completely ending the sale of cigarettes. This includes the building of world-class scientific assessment capabilities, notably in the areas of pre-clinical systems toxicology, clinical and behavioral research, as well as post-market studies. In November 2022, PMI acquired Swedish Match—a leader in oral nicotine delivery—creating a global smoke-free champion led by the companies’ IQOS and ZYN brands. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized versions of PMI’s IQOS Platform 1 devices and consumables and Swedish Match’s General Snus as Modified Risk Tobacco Products (MRTPs). As of June 30, 2023, PMI’s smoke-free products were available for sale in 80 markets, and PMI estimates that approximately 19.4 million adults around the world had already switched to IQOS and stopped smoking. Smoke-free products accounted for approximately 35.4 percent of PMI’s total second-quarter 2023 net revenues. With a strong foundation and significant expertise in life sciences, PMI announced in February 2021 its ambition to expand into wellness and healthcare areas and, through its Vectura Fertin Pharma business, aims to enhance life through the delivery of seamless health experiences. For more information, please visit www.pmi.com and www.pmiscience.com.
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2 Lars M. Ramström: National availability of snus is clearly associated with lower rates of mortality attributable to tobacco—while country-level implementation of WHO tobacco control measures is not, Global Forum on Nicotine 2022
4Smoking Habits in the UK and Constituent Countries, 2021 dataset edition
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