On Wednesday, Philip Morris International CEO Andre Calantzopoulos told the BBC that the company hopes to phase out its traditional cigarettes in favor of a less harmful alternative. The company recently launched the IQOS smokeless cigarette, which heats up tobacco, as opposed to burning it. Calantzopoulos said smokers would still get the same amount of nicotine, only with 90 percent fewer harmful toxins as compared to cigarette smoke.
The largest international tobacco company has not yet made the product readily available to the entire world. The IQOS is currently for sale in Japan, Switzerland, and Italy while recently launching in the United Kingdom. The BBC reports that unverified trials of these types of products could help some smokers quit the habit, although Philip Morris isn’t pushing this point while preferring to simply note the “less harmful” aspect. Calantzopoulos said these new tech-based products will help the company phase out traditional cigarettes and adapt to new trends:
“I believe there will come a moment in time where I would say we have sufficient adoption of these alternative products … to start envisaging, together with governments, a phase-out period for cigarettes. I hope this time will come soon.”
While most of Phillip Morris’ profits do come from traditional cigarettes, Calantzopoulos said there will still be approximately a billion smokers across the world by 2025, but he hopes this switch will improve their health:
“If smokers switch to electronic cigarettes or other products that can be shown to cut the risks to their health, this could lead to a big improvement in public health,” said Deborah Arnott, chief executive of UK health charity Action on Smoking and Health. “But we need independent evidence to support any claims made by the tobacco industry.”
Additionally, the recent upgrade may provide good PR for the brand, which remains the target of much criticism. And it looks as if Philip Morris isn’t messing around — the tobacco conglomerate has reportedly spent $2 billion on such reduced-risk products.