If someone told you that Philip Morris International, the tobacco industry leader and owner of brands like Marlboro and Chesterfield, would stop producing cigars to focus on its goal of promoting a tobacco-free world, you might not believe it. But it’s absolutely true. It’s happening.
The brand has announced that it is discontinuing cigar production, selling only smokeless products such as the so-called IQOS, an electronic device that heats the tobacco mixture without producing combustion, which promises to cause fewer harmful health effects.
The announcement came after the company announced its alliance with car company Ferrari for a smoke-free world.
“We at Philip Morris are very proud to partner with Ferrari to raise awareness in our countries about the opportunities that innovation, science and technology provide for a smoke-free future,” Gabriela W. Wittman said in February. Gabriela Wursel, vice president of corporate affairs for Latin America and Canada, made the announcement in February.
Prior to that announcement, when the brand was evaluating options, she said it could be a dramatic decision in an effort to rid the world of smoking.
“Smokers are looking for less harmful alternatives, and addressing these needs represents not only a business opportunity, but also an opportunity to make a significant contribution to a positive impact on public health.
Gonzalo Salafranca, director of communications for the company in Mexico, said: “This is a paradigm shift and a complete business transformation.
There are now more than 350 scientists in Switzerland, with about $5 billion (mdrd) invested over 10 years, both in the development of new smoke-free products and in research and refurbishment of factories designed to produce traditional cigars.
“We have announced our intention to one day stop selling cigars and devote ourselves to marketing smokeless products, that is, those that don’t burn. Everyone agrees that cigarette smoke, the result of burning tobacco, is a major cause of smoking-related diseases… But the way to completely reduce the risk is to give up the habit altogether.
According to Forbes, PMI said the factory of its Greek subsidiary Papastratos in Aspropyrgos, Greece, has stopped producing cigarettes to produce only Heets, which are the tobacco blocks used with IQOS. Three hundred million euros were invested in this operation to build three new buildings and replace production lines.
The tobacco heating system is already present in 38 countries and is used by nearly 5 million people.
Pilot testing began in 2015, and it will now be sold in Arab countries, including IQOS Saudi Arabia Korea, Spain, Italy, the European Union, Canada and Colombia.
Within seven years, the new category is expected to account for 30 percent of total production.
“Instead of burning tobacco, it is heated with an electronic device, so without reaching combustion temperature, thousands of chemical components in the smoke, among which there is a proportion of carcinogenic, are reduced by 90-95%. We want to introduce these new products and one day stop selling cigars, and this change will be gradual, so that the new product will cannibalize the second,” says the manager.
During the past year, 40% of the retail space has been dedicated to the new smokeless products, and 70% of the costs have been invested in the company’s research and development.
It’s worth noting that the firm has a device that uses an alternative heat source to extract flavorings and nicotine from tobacco leaves by heating them with charcoal.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are expected to be one billion smokers worldwide by 2025. Will they already be in a smoke-free world?