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PMI: Leading a transformation in the tobacco industry to create a smoke-free future and ultimately replace cigarettes with better alternatives

If you could list three products that, if eliminated, would make the world a better place, would cigarettes be among them?

The answer is most probably yes. What if one of the largest cigarette companies decided to go ahead and get rid of them?

Philip Morris International (PMI) is the only cigarette company working towards phasing out cigarettes, both from its company and the world. PMI is convinced that its vision of a smoke-free future is both achievable and compatible with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, yet it recognizes that the reputational deficit it faces as a company, in particular, and as an industry, in general, makes society (at best) cautiously optimistic of its purpose. As it transforms its business, PMI knows that one of its key challenges is, and will continue to be, earning the trust of its stakeholders and society as a whole.

Smoking cigarettes causes serious disease, and the best way to avoid the harms of smoking is never to start, or to quit. But what happens with those who will not stop smoking? Today, an estimated 1.1 billion men and women around the world smoke cigarettes or other combustible tobacco products; PMI’s goal is for at least 30 percent of its customers, who would otherwise continue smoking, to switch to its smoke-free products by 2025. Based on that ambition, they project that by the same year, at least 40 million PMI cigarette smokers will have switched to smoke-free products.

“Three years ago we made a commitment to a future without cigarettes, a smoke-free future that will improve the health trajectories of more than one billion adult smokers. We are actively transforming our business from the inside out and are doing everything we can to get to a smoke-free future as quickly as possible.” said André Calantzopoulos, CEO of PMI. “For us, our smoke-free vision and purpose is about creating a business that brings a positive societal change and therefore, is much more sustainable. We are dedicated to using our resources and ingenuity to develop and commercialize better alternatives for the men and women who smoke as fast as possible.”

Although alternative, smoke-free products have the potential to significantly reduce the individual risks and population harm compared with cigarette smoking, they are nonetheless addictive and are not risk-free. PMI says it supports measures to ensure that smokers are accurately informed about the health risks of smoking, effective regulation to discourage the consumption of cigarettes, and efforts to prevent minors from consuming nicotine in any form.

Mindful that its business transformation also brings added responsibilities, PMI is viewing its activities through a sustainability lens to be better equipped to responsibly manage this transition and its impact on society and the environment. For example, PMI has adopted science based targets and is a leading company in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, not only in its factories, but across the whole supply chain — recognized for the fifth consecutive year on CDP’s Climate A-List in 2019.

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