Philip Morris International Vows To End UK Cigarette Sales Within 10 Years

·2 min read

Tobacco company Philip Morris International (NYSE: PM) has announced a goal to cease cigarette sales in the U.K. within the next 10 years.

What Happened: In an interview with the Daily Mail, CEO Jacek Olczak stated the company will replace its traditional cigarette product line with “modern alternatives” including e-cigarettes and heated tobacco devices.

“I want to allow this company to leave smoking behind,” Olczak said. “I think in the U.K., 10 years from now maximum, you can completely solve the problem of smoking.”

When asked if the company’s iconic Marlboro brand will eventually disappear from the U.K., Olczak said: “It will disappear. The first choice for consumers is they should quit smoking. But if they don't, the second best choice is to let them switch to the better alternatives.”

Olczak’s announcement marks the latest effort by New York City-headquartered Philip Morris International to reposition itself within the U.K. market away from its cigarette origins.

Earlier this month, the company announced plans to acquire Vectura Group, a British pharmaceutical company specializing in inhaled medicines — a transaction that generated criticism within the U.K. from anti-smoke groups and several members of the government that argued the tobacco company was the wrong entity to making this acquisition.

“We can stand still and continue selling cigarettes or we can do something with the science and the technology at least to significantly reduce the harm created by smoking,” said Olczak on CNBC's “Closing Bell.” “I believe what we’re doing is absolutely right. Nothing and nobody will stop us in our transformations to leave smoking behind.”

Related Link: Stock Wars: Altria Group Vs. Philip Morris International

What Else Is Happening: Cigarette smoking has become more prevalent in the U.K. during the coronavirus pandemic. In February, the trade journal The Grocer reported sales of cigarettes were up by 7% to $1.7 billion during lockdown period while sales for rolling tobacco increased by more than one-third.

In 2019, the U.K. government released a blueprint for the nation to go “smoke-free” by 2030, which was part of a wider initiative to address measures to improve general health, including the promotion of physical activity and increasing funding for diabetes prevention programs. Part of the government’s 2030 goal was to ensure smokers who are admitted to hospitals automatically receive offers to help them kick their cigarette habit.

Photo: Gerd Almtann /Pixabay.

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