Philip Morris International (PMI) received good press attention when he said a few months ago that he wanted traditional combustible cigarettes, including those made by PMI, to be banned in the UK by now 2030.
But here’s the unhealthy truth: This ad has nothing to do with getting people to quit – and everything to do with the migration of smokers to other addictive forms of tobacco like PMI’s iQOS product. , which heats the tobacco rather than burning it. Do we know for sure that inhaling a heated plume of tobacco vapor into the lungs is 100% safe? Isn’t this a replay of the 1950s where smoking was recommended as part of a healthy lifestyle? Isn’t it like the recent explosion in the vape epidemic where vaping was initially considered safe, and now millions of children and adults are using vape and will likely convert to cigarettes as well?
Weeks after the company announced it would stop selling Marlboro cigarettes in the UK within a decade, PMI made a $ 1.4 billion offer to buy Vectura, a pharmaceutical company that makes inhalers. for asthma and other products that treat lung conditions. Now that they have sealed the deal, it is a profitable transition for the company to generate new revenue from other tobacco products and respiratory drugs used for the treatment of fatal lung disease related to tobacco like emphysema.
Philip Morris claims he wants to help people avoid the risks of tobacco and nicotine, but his actions tell a different story. In its 2020 Annual Report to Shareholders, tobacco giant Altria Group, Inc. (the parent company of Philip Morris USA, US Smokeless Tobacco Company and others) underscored its commitment to IQOS electronic smoking devices:
PM USA is focused on expanding the availability and awareness of IQOS and Marlboro HeatSticks, communicating to adult smokers the FDA-approved reduced exposure claim, and bringing to market the improved IQOS 3 device. We believe PM USA has the right approach to maximize its pioneering advantage while responsibly positioning the US heated tobacco category for long-term growth and profitability.
The tobacco companies will never stop protecting their interests. This underscores the urgent need to provide consumers with accurate and vital information – and to help all tobacco users quit all forms of tobacco completely and for good, using evidence-based cessation interventions such as trained coaches, proven behavior change interventions and the FDA. approved drug therapy. Isn’t quitting smoking safer and more logical than switching a tobacco user from one tobacco product to another?
The public health crisis caused by tobacco is monumental. Tobacco causes 8 million preventable deaths per year worldwide and over $ 1.4 trillion (yes, trillion with a T) in excess health care spending. According to the CDC, 68% of American adult smokers want to quit, and 55% try to quit every year. Unfortunately, only 7.5% of smokers who try to quit initially succeed, and many resume smoking within a year of quitting.
Of course, nothing can make a bigger and more immediate difference than enabling millions of tobacco users around the world to quit smoking altogether. Advances in science and technology tell us that tobacco users don’t need to quit âcold turkeyâ to be successful – instead, they can rethink how to quit and understand the psychology of why they smoke.
Many smoking cessation programs work with employers and healthcare companies to help employees quit at no cost to the tobacco user. Modern, clinically proven approaches to quitting smoking include one-on-one coaching, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), and personalized applications with community support.
Modern breakthroughs in smoking cessation are helping tobacco users cut back and quit as they please, safely and for good. Quitting smoking has a positive ripple effect that helps employers, insurers, families and friends, as well as the tobacco user himself.
Why wait until 2030 to ban smoking when we can do something now?
Photo: artist, Getty Images