Comment: Jacek Olczak – Moving towards a future without cigarettes

I like to imagine that solving a complex problem is like taking a journey through uncharted waters. You may not know exactly what you are going to encounter and should always remain nimble, but if you maintain a clear vision of what you set out to accomplish and keep your courage up, you will find your way.

For Philip Morris International, our direction could not be clearer: to provide a smoke-free future. We put our money where our mouth is, and have invested over $ 8 billion to develop science-based alternatives for adults who would otherwise continue to smoke.

Let’s not doubt that the best thing you can do is never start or quit smoking, but those who don’t quit deserve better choices than sticking with cigarettes.

I realize that it seems counterintuitive for a tobacco company to want to stop selling cigarettes, but today science and technology have made it possible for smokeless alternatives to exist. By eliminating the burning of tobacco, by eliminating smoke, innovative alternatives can produce significantly lower levels of harmful chemicals compared to cigarette smoke.

Every day we move towards a time when cigarettes will be a thing of the past. We will not stop. My job is to keep the PMI laser focused on the evolution of science and technology that is leading us towards a smoke-free future. Our future will be smoke-free. For PMI, there is no turning back.

The progress we are making towards our smoke-free goal is remarkable. Just six years ago, almost all of our total net income came from cigarettes. At the end of 2020, almost 25% came from our smoke-free products. And in 2025, we aim to become a predominantly smoke-free product company, with over 50% of our total net income coming from these products.

I am proud of the tremendous progress we are making towards becoming smoke-free and have high hopes that we will achieve this goal, but I am also a pragmatist. To achieve a smoke-free future, we need the right combination of government leadership and business ingenuity.

Together, we can dramatically accelerate efforts to reduce the health burden of smoking, and America is helping lead the way. In this country, the Food and Drug Administration has powerful tools to scientifically examine alternatives for adults who would continue to smoke, while establishing clear rules to maximize the possibility for adults to quit smoking and minimize use. unintentional, especially by young people.

Ultimately, cigarette replacement is about individuals choosing to change. Adults need to have access to products and to be educated on products that are better than sticking with cigarettes. They have the right to choose better. A big change starts with one person making a big decision. Americans who smoke need a range of choices that are smoke-free today and a range of choices tomorrow. Not all solutions are suitable for all smokers.

Above all, in countries where smoke-free products are already available, we are starting to see their real impact: smoking is decreasing at an accelerating rate. For example, a study by American researchers concluded that cigarette sales in Japan fell five times faster over a four-year period after the introduction of smokeless products than before over the same period.

I believe that cigarette sales can stop within 10 to 15 years in many countries around the world and I am committed to doing my part to make this a reality.

Jacek Olczak is CEO of Philip Morris International. He wrote this for

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