Cigarette Giant Philip Morris Secures Control Of UK Inhaler Company

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Harry Wilmerding Contributor
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Cigarette giant Philip Morris International (PMI) announced Thursday that it had taken control of the U.K. inhaler company Vectura despite opposition from health care groups.

PMI, maker of Marlboro and Parliament cigarettes, will become the majority shareholder of Vectura, controlling almost 75% of its shares, the company said in a news release. PMI will use Vectura’s existing resources to build out its smokeless tobacco products.

“We are very excited about the critical role Vectura will play in our Beyond Nicotine strategy and look forward to working with Vectura’s scientists and providing them with the resources and expertise to grow their business to help us achieve our goal of generating at least $1 billion in net revenues from Beyond Nicotine products by 2025,” PMI said in the news release.

PMI plans to generate over half of its revenue from smoke-free products over the next four years, CNN reported. The company currently sells its cigarettes in over 175 markets while Vectura has made 13 inhaled medications to treat lung conditions, including Asthma. (RELATED: FDA Will Need More Time To Decide If Juul Can Sell E-Cigarettes)

Over 35 health advocacy groups, including Asthma U.K. and the European Lung Foundation, signed a letter asking Vectura’s board to reject PMI’s offer, according to Reuters.

“There’s now a very real risk that Vectura’s deal with big tobacco will lead to the cigarette industry wielding undue influence on UK health policy,” Sarah Woolnaugh, chief executive of Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, said in the letter obtained by Reuters.

“We call on the government to stand by its commitment to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to prevent this happening,” Woolnaugh added.

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