It’s Time to Unsmoke: Accepting Our Critics’ Challenge to Produce Smoke-Free Alternatives
How Philip Morris International is confronting the task and asking society to reimagine a world without smoke
By Jacek Olczak, Chief Operating Officer, Philip Morris International
As Chief Operating Officer at Philip Morris International (PMI), it’s my job to help realize our transformation. Today, this means unsmoking the world. In fact, this is something we at PMI have been actively engaged in for more than 20 years. Yes, that’s right: It’s been nearly two decades since we began researching, developing and scientifically assessing smoke-free products as part of our commitment to creating a smoke-free future, which now is becoming a reality.
Since the debut of our main smoke-free product in 2014, more than 7.3 million people have switched to our smoke-free alternative. Currently available for sale in 47 markets (as of March 31, 2019), 19 of these markets report net revenues from smoke-free products that exceeded 10 percent of total net revenues. In three of our markets, smoke-free products were the biggest part of total net revenues as of the end of March.
All of this may surprise you if your perception is that PMI is strictly a cigarette company. But the truth is, not only does it make good business sense for us, it is the right thing to do. Nine out of 10 adult smokers continue smoking each year, so regardless of your opinion of our industry, there is one thing on which we should all agree: These individuals deserve better options.
Indeed, in 1997, some of our company’s fiercest critics challenged us to produce less harmful products. We listened—and accepted the challenge.
It’s taken hundreds of scientists, thousands of tests and billions of dollars to invent products without cigarette smoke—smoke-free products that don’t burn tobacco, products that adult smokers can switch to completely and not return to cigarettes.
These smoke-free products contain nicotine and are not risk free. However, the science supports their potential to be a better choice than continued smoking. We share our science and data openly with the scientific and medical communities, as well as with governments throughout the world.
The best choice any adult smoker can make is to quit altogether. But those who don’t quit deserve access to these alternative products. They also deserve current information in order to make their own choices. By encouraging the men and women who don’t quit to completely adopt smoke-free alternatives, we can eventually leave cigarettes behind.
That’s why today, we believe it’s time to evolve World No Tobacco Day into World No Smoking Day. It’s time to unsmoke—to create a planet free of cigarette smoke.