Creating A Smoke Free Generation?
Tobacco giant Philip Morris (PMI) has said it wants to quit making cigarettes, put alternatives to smoking in its cigarette packets and a host of other commitments to creating a smoke-free generation.
In a series of adverts taken out in the mainstream press, the tobacco company has set out its vision of a smoke-free future which includes an advice website and provision of support to local councils to help quitters.
The ads ran in several major newspapers including The Sun but health charities have described the move as a PR stunt.
And more recently the World Health Organisation advised governments to reject a suggestion from Philip Morris to create a Foundation for a Smoke-Free World.
"The tobacco industry and its front groups have misled the public about the risks associated with other tobacco products," a statement from WHO said at the time.
"Such misleading conduct continues today with companies, including PMI, marketing tobacco products in ways that misleadingly suggest that some tobacco products are less harmful than others.
"WHO will not partner with the Foundation. Governments should not partner with the Foundation and the public health community should follow this lead."
And recently, after 10 years of legal battles, tobacco companies in the US were forced to advertise the potential harm their products cause in a series of television adverts.
As well as the Marlboro range, Philip Morris also owns the Nicocig, Vivid and Mesh ecigarette brands.
And in the newest adverts PMI claims to have spent £2.5 billion on research into smoking alternatives. The most widely promoted of these is PMI’s heat-not-burn product, IQOS.
IQOS heats tobacco rather than burning it, which it is believed is a contributing factor in the carcinogenic nature of cigarettes.
Philip Morris’s ads also say the company wants to:
- Launch a website and campaign to provide smokers with information on quitting and on alternatives to cigarettes;
- Offer to support Local Authority cessation services where smoking rates are highest;
- Seek government approval to insert directly into our cigarette packs information on quitting and on switching;
- Expand the availability of e cigarette products in the UK
Mark MacGregor, PMI UK Head of Corporate Affairs told Marketing Week that people had tried alternatives that weren’t right for them and that PMI providing information was getting people to take another look at the alternatives.
These ads are also the start of a secretive wider and ‘more visible’ campaign set to run later un the year.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of health charity Action on Smoking and Health told the Independent that the adverts were "a PR stunt", adding that Philip Morris would not be able to assist the Government in helping people quit as this would amount to a donation. Tobacco company donations to government are currently illegal.
Also more recently an investigation by Reuters claimed irregularities in the research that forms the foundation for the company’s application for FDA approval of IQOS.
Philip Morris also told Reuters that its studies were carried out by suitably qualified and trained professionals and ‘our policies encourage speaking up about suspected violations of law or our policies…’.