Officials with the largest manufacturer of cigarettes in the world say they intend to stop selling combustible cigarettes in the United Kingdom by 2030.
Philip Morris International (PMI) bought full-page ads in some of largest media publications in the United Kingdom at the start of the New Year, claiming its resolution is “to stop selling cigarettes” in the country. Mark MacGregor, PMI’s director of corporate affairs for the U.K., doubled down on the new initiative in an interview with the Daily Star Monday, saying 2030 is the company’s target for ending cigarette sales in the country, reports Vaping Post.
The initiative is part of a broader campaign by PMI to promote their heat-not-burn device IQOS in the U.K., with the goal of transitioning smokers to safer products. PMI argues countries can significantly slash their smoking rates by embracing harm reduction technologies like vaping, instead of relying on methods like nicotine patches and gum that have low success rates.
MacGregor says a recent internal memo shows that 2030 is a “realistic timeframe” to achieve their goals.
“The report said it would be possible to get to, not absolutely zero, but close to zero smokers of cigarettes by early 2030,” MacGregor told the Daily Star. “That’s why we’re focused on trying to persuade our smokers to quit altogether or switch to alternatives which, even according to the government, are significantly less harmful.”
The current ad campaign is raising eyebrows among tobacco control groups that are skeptical of the tobacco giant’s motives. PMI addresses these concerns in their advertisements by saying for smokers, “the best action they can take is to quit smoking,” but note that many of the U.K.’s 7.6 million adult smokers will struggle to abstain from the habit.
The company says they want to encourage this portion of the smoking population to transition to vaping or heat-not-burn devices, which drastically reduce the health risks from smoking combustible tobacco.
The U.K.’s Department of Health released a policy paper on e-cigarettes July 18, backing the vapes as useful tools to quit smoking and eliminate secondhand risks to the public. The department’s Five Year Tobacco Control plan aims to significantly slash the overall smoking rate, and argues that expanding public access to vaping will help achieve this goal.
Health officials in the country hope to bring the smoking rate down from 15.5 percent to 12 percent by the end of 2022. The report states that the government wants to “minimize the risk of harm” to the smoker and those around them by “maximizing the availability of safer alternatives to smoking.”
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