The mammoth tobacco-fueled corporation Philip Morris announced that they are “trying to give up cigarettes.”
Philip Morris International has taken out full-page ads in a variety of UK publications, though it has yet to spread its message further west. Its message is clear: “Our ambition is to stop selling cigarettes in the UK,” the ad says. “It won’t be easy.” It says that the “best action” the approximately 7.6 smokers in the United Kingdom can take is to quit smoking altogether.
While the company’s marketing department suggests that “many will succeed,” Philip Morris International (PMI) has decided to do their part by offering to replace traditional cigarettes with electronic ones, as well as “heated tobacco” products. These alternative Reduced-Risk Products, or RRPs, are part of PMI’s pursuit of a new “vision” for a “common-sense approach for public health.”
But as the company lays out its path to saving UK citizens from their own product, the World Health Organization (WHO) is not buying the story. In a statement regarding their refusal to support the Philip Morris-funded “Foundation for a Smoke-Free World,” the WHO asserted that “the tobacco industry and its front groups have misled the public about the risks associated with other tobacco products” and called out a “fundamental conflict of interest between the tobacco industry and public health” as recognized by the U.N. General Assembly.
It is interesting to note that PMI’s sudden turn toward public health is restricted to the UK and that it comes in a climate where people are already turning away from the habit en masse. Pepperstone Market Analyst Darren Sinden points out that “it’s not doing it for altruistic reasons.” According to Sinden, Philip Morris merely “recognizes that the tobacco industry is increasingly regulated” and “needs to diversify or adapt to survive.”
Doing that is much easier when you frame it as saving lives.
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