Since 2008, we’ve spent more than $8 billion on the scientific substantiation and development of innovative smoke-free alternatives to cigarettes that are significantly less harmful than continued smoking. This, with the ultimate goal to phase out cigarettes completely.
Since announcing our transformation in 2016, our new mission has been the subject of criticism by some who have expressed skepticism about our commitment and progress. We understand the continuing distrust of cigarette companies, and we know the tobacco industry faces a trust deficit. We are not asking for trust. We are asking to look dispassionately at the scientific evidence in favor of smoke-free alternatives compared to continued smoking.
In an ideal world, all smokers would quit tobacco and nicotine altogether. But we do not live in an ideal world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there will still be 1.1 billion people who smoke in 2025. Our ambition is to convince all adult smokers who will otherwise continue smoking cigarettes to switch to scientifically substantiated smoke-free products as soon as possible.
Robust science at the core of our efforts
While not risk-free, smoke-free products have been scientifically substantiated to be a much better alternative to continued smoking. In fact, in authorizing our heated tobacco system as a Modified Risk Tobacco Product — and allowing reduced exposure claims to be made to consumers — the US Food and Drug Administration noted that it is “appropriate to promote the public health” and “is expected to benefit the health of the population as a whole.”
Achievements and ambition
As of June 30, 2021, already 29% of our total net revenue comes from our smoke-free products, commercialized in 67 markets. This area of our business, in line with our goals, continues to grow and we aim to achieve at least 50% of our net revenues from smoke-free products by 2025. To date, an estimated 14.7 million smokers have completely switched to our flagship smoke-free product and quit smoking cigarettes entirely.
The recent acquisition of three pioneering pharmaceutical companies aims to accelerate our “Beyond Nicotine” strategy — as included in our 2020 Integrated Report – and to accelerate our evolution outside of tobacco and nicotine into a broader lifestyle and consumer wellness company.
Tangible business transformation metrics
We have put in place concrete business transformation metrics on which we report periodically, allowing our stakeholders to assess both the pace and the scale of our transformation and to showcase how we are allocating resources away from our traditional cigarette business, aiming to base our success on a future where we no longer make or sell cigarettes. Very recently, we launched our business transformation-linked financing framework, which integrates our company’s smoke-free transformation into our financing strategy.
Regulation to accelerate innovation
Millions of men and women worldwide have already switched to our smoke-free products and given up cigarettes completely, and this is just the beginning. A smoke-free future is within our grasp. We believe that with the right regulatory encouragement and support from civil society, cigarette sales can end within 10 to 15 years in many countries.
About the author
Tom joined the Benelux affiliate of Philip Morris International (PMI) as a starter in 2007. Over the past 15 years, he has held several roles of increasing responsibility in sales and finance, before moving to his current role as Manager External Affairs Benelux.