September 18, 2017
by Guillaume Périgois

Consumer choice and Philip Morris’ $1bn pledge to end smoking

If the tobacco industry is to meet the needs of all its customers, it has to even electronic nicotine delivery systems with tobacco smoking.


Last week, Philip Morris International (PMI) pledged $1bn over the next 12 years to Smoke-Free World (SFW), a newly created foundation governed by independent trustees which design is to fund scientific research with the goal of eliminating the use of smoked tobacco around the globe.

The person heading the foundation is Darek Yach, a former executive at the World Health Organisation (WHO) who was key in the development of its Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), a quite unimpressive piece of agreement between governments leading them to impose tougher anti-smokers laws and higher taxation on cigarettes (note: the FCTC is also incorrectly interpreted by an anti-smokers group in Brussels to bar Forest EU from attending its events).

Of course, anti-smokers hardliners were quick to attack this move by PMI, criticising Darek Yach for his career choice, and questioning the degree of independence SFW will have vis-à-vis the tobacco industry.

If these hardliners were able to diminish the reputations of SFW-funded scientists by linking them to the tobacco industry, legitimate academics will shy away from the new foundation as a source of support. This is the kind of extreme result extreme people do seek, as they tend to be more interested in banning tobacco (smoked or not) than seeing tobacco consumers offered more and safer products.

On the contrary, Forest EU welcomes harm reduction and embraces new technology and emerging products. However it will harm vaping and heat-not-burn products if they’re being promoted as an attempt to stub out smoking.

That’s because what consumers ultimately want is choice.

Smokers want the tobacco product they consume to be pleasurable and convenient to use.

Simon Clark, Director of Forest, was a speaker at the GTNF event in New York where PMI made its announcement. Simon underlined that:

 


You cannot coerce smokers to switch to a healthier alternative. For smokers to switch to a healthier nicotine delivery system it has to be more pleasurable than the usual cigarette.

If the tobacco industry is to meet the needs and desires of all its customers, it has to even electronic nicotine delivery systems with tobacco smoking. We are talking about 100 million adult smokers in the EU alone.

I certainly hope Forest EU won’t be alone in defending the interests of adults who choose to smoke as well as the interests of those who choose to switch to e-cigarettes and other nicotine products.

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About Forest EU

Since 1979, Forest has been the leading voice in defending the rights of tobacco consumers and tolerant non-smokers. As an advocacy campaign, Forest EU informs consumers about issues that affect them in the European Union and engages with stakeholders so the views of informed adults are taken into account within the EU’s decision-making process. Forest EU doesn’t encourage smoking, accepts there are serious health risks associated with smoking tobacco and represents the consumer, not the tobacco industry. For more information, visit http://forestonline.eu/.

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