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The chief executive of tobacco giant Philip Morris International said The daily mail Sunday that the company will stop selling cigarettes in the UK within the next ten years.
Company CEO Jacek Olczak has said the company’s iconic Marlboro cigarette brand will be taken off UK shelves over the next decade.
“It will go away. The first choice for consumers is to quit smoking,” he told the store. “But if they don’t, the second best choice is to let them move on to the better alternatives.”
The development is only part of the reinvention of Philip Morris International to abandon traditional tobacco products.
Olczak became CEO of the company in May and plans to lead the company’s “smoke-free” transformation. He said the company’s new mission is to find and deliver “less harmful alternatives to cigarettes” to the millions of people who would otherwise continue to smoke.
In May, he said: “Our ambition is for more than half of our net income to come from smokeless products by 2025.”
UK also aims for a smoke-free future
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The company’s efforts are part of a much larger societal shift in attitudes towards smoking, particularly in the UK. The government recently announced its own goal of making England smoke-free by 2030. The UK will be considered ‘smoke-free’ when the nation smokes rates below 5%.
The decline in smoking in recent years is linked to the serious health problems caused by the consumption of highly addictive tobacco around the world.
The World Health Organization has said that “the tobacco epidemic is one of the greatest public health threats the world has ever faced.” It kills more than eight million people a year – seven million of these deaths are directly related to tobacco use. More than a million other deaths are due to the exposure of non-smokers to second-hand smoke.
Citing the country’s chief medical officer, a recent UK government report said smoking would kill more people in the UK than COVID-19, both this year and in 2020.
“Recent analysis shows that it kills up to two-thirds of long-term users,” the report says.
About 14% of the UK adult population smoke. Based on current trends, the most disadvantaged communities will not be smoke-free until 2045, according to the report.
Scotland’s ambition is to achieve this smoke-free target by 2034, with no date yet set for Wales or Northern Ireland.
Philip Morris bets on alternatives to cigarettes
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Philip Morris International is not completely abandoning products intended for smokers, despite its commitment.
It is focusing more on developing tobacco heating systems, such as electronic cigarettes that “always create a tobacco vapor that contains nicotine,” the company said.
The Cigarette Maker says on its website that “smokeless products” are not “safe” but “are a much better choice than cigarettes”.
Philip Morris recently announced the acquisition of Vectura Group, a UK pharmaceutical company that produces inhalers, and Danish company Fertin Pharma, a manufacturer of nicotine gum. The purchase of Vectura drew criticism from people who found a problem with a tobacco company that, while making money from cigarettes, is positioning itself as an anti-smoking company.