August 06, 2021
Without context, the claim that Philip Morris was going to stop selling cigarettes in the UK within ten years would sound ridiculous. The claim alone surprised many – it was hard to believe that a cigarette company would willingly stop selling cigarettes. However, with a little more context, it is not surprising at all.
Before Philip Morris’s announcement, the British government had already announced that they wanted to make the UK smoke-free by 2030, with smoke-free defined as a less than 5% smoking rate. However, that was not news for many people. A government entity trying to cut down on smoking is hardly notable news. Philip Morris’s announcement is more so acknowledging that the UK wants to get rid of cigarettes, and a part of their own business plan.
In May, the CEO of Philip Morris, Jacek Olczak, announced “Our ambition is that more than half of our net revenues will come from smoke-free products in 2025.”
The transition away from cigarettes is something they were already planning. Generally, the UK has been fairly vape friendly in the past, and happily willing to consider smoke free nicotine alternatives. It is likely that Philip Morris is simply moving away from cigarettes to focus on promoting their own smokeless tobacco product – the IQOS.
Anti-smoking advocates are understandably having trouble taking Philip Morris seriously. Given the lack of commitment Philip Morris has shown in the past, it is understandable to believe that this is more publicity. However, given their own smoke-free product and the UK’s commitment to become smoke-free, it is likely that cigarettes will eventually stop being sold in Britain.
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