As smoking rates keep has dropping across the globe, PMI has reported revenue excluding excise taxes of $6.9 billion, less than the $7.03 billion predicted, while shares slipped by as much as 15% in New York. In fact, cigarette shipments fell 5.3 percent in the first quarter, offsetting a rise in iQOS deliveries.
PMI has invested heavily in its Heat not Burn devices and launched a marketing campaign aiming to portray itself as pro-harm reduction.
PMI has of course been proactive and not only invested heavily in its Heat not Burn devices but also launched a marketing campaign aiming to portray itself as wanting to end the current smoking epidemic.
Infact, back in 2016, PMI made headlines when Andre Calantzopoulos, the company’s CEO said that he would like “to work with governments towards the “phase-out” of conventional cigarettes”. Additionally Peter Nixon, the Managing Director for UK and Ireland had said, “We want to move towards a smoke-free future and a lot of that is incentivising people to move across from cigarettes to something that is less harmful.”
Following this, PMI had made yet another bold announcement saying that it would allocate $1 billion to set up the infamous Smoke-Free Foundation, an initiative that has been met with nothing but suspicion and skepticism, and has been a much debated hot topic of controversy amidst anti-tobacco circles.
PMI’s Greek affiliate has switched to producing Heets
PMI announced that the factory of its Greek affiliate has stopped producing cigarettes, and will from now on be only producing safer alternatives.
Subsequently, earlier this month the tobacco company has surprised many once again when it announced that the factory of its Greek affiliate Papastratos in Aspropyrgos, has stopped producing cigarettes and will from now on be only producing HEETS, the tobacco refills which look like short cigarettes, that are used with PMI’s HnB device iQOS.
PMI’s CEO André Calantzopoulos, said, “This is a historic day for our company. Papastratos is the first of our factories to end cigarette production and fully shift to manufacturing our smoke-free alternatives. We will continue to convert existing sites and invest in new facilities to answer global adult smoker demand for better alternatives to cigarettes.”
“We made a commitment to provide all people who would otherwise continue smoking with potentially less harmful products. The momentum around this revolutionary change for the benefit of the world’s 1.1 billion smokers, public health and society at large is growing, and we will continue working towards a smoke-free future,” he added.
What about PMI’s motives?
Naturally, many anti-tobacco experts remain skeptical about PMI’s intentions. Such motions and statements about wanting to “stop selling conventional cigarettes” are considered by many as nothing but a clever business strategy to switch from selling cigarettes to selling safer counterparts, as a way of dealing with the global drop in smoking rates.
“We made a commitment to provide all people who would otherwise continue smoking with potentially less harmful products. The momentum around this revolutionary change for the benefit of the world’s 1.1 billion smokers, public health and society at large is growing, and we will continue working towards a smoke-free future.” André Calantzopoulos, CEO, PMI
However other public health experts consider PMI’s motives irrelevant. Anti-smoking expert and Adjunct Professor at the Centre for Health Law, Policy & Ethics at University of Ottawa, David Sweanor, is suggesting working together with tobacco companies and making use of the resources they are offering, in order to truly understand the industry and help turn it into a sustainable one. Irrespective of what Big Tobacco’s motives are, such an attitude will ultimately still lead to the desired goal of helping smokers quit.
Read Further: Bloomberg