Tobacco Control Advocates Unmask PMI’s Continued Investments In Cigarettes Despite Earlier Commitments

... Numbers At Annual Shareholders Meeting Belie Rebranding Attempts

By Edu Abade

Tobacco control advocates have berated Philip Morris International (PMI) for its continued investments in cigarettes in spite of a long standing commitment to discourage people from smoking and using other lethal tobacco products known to constitute grave harm to public health.

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 Reeling out statistics of PMI’s commitments spanning several decades, the Corporate Accountability pointed out that in 1954 (70 years ago) an executive of the company said: “If we had any thought or knowledge that in any way we were selling a product that is harmful to consumers, “we would stop business tomorrow.”

 “In 1972, another PMI executive claimed that “if our product is harmful, we’ll stop making it. And in 2023, PMI claimed in its annual report that, “We don’t need to imagine a future without cigarettes. We are delivering one.”

 Yet the numbers presented to shareholders tell a very different story: cigarettes remain a critical part of PMI’s business and the corporation continues to invest in cigarette advertising and infrastructure.

 Specifically, nearly two-thirds of PMI’s total net revenues or 63.5 percent are from the sale of traditional cigarettes, while the rest are from other tobacco and nicotine products. PMI holds 24 percent of the international cigarette market. Marlboro, the most-sold cigarette brand in the world, has increased its market share from 9.2 percent to 9.8 percent in the last decade.

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 Also curiously, PMI continues to invest in cigarette production, including the building of a new cigarette factory in Tanzania.

 Tobacco Campaign Director at Corporate Accountability, Daniel Dorado, said: “We cannot forget that PMI has spent more than 70 years lying and manipulating people for money. Since tobacco executives can no longer deny the danger of cigarettes, they’re attempting to distance themselves and rebrand their industry.

 “But the truth is that they continue to get rich from selling cigarettes and other harmful tobacco and nicotine products. Profit is and has always been their primary concern- even at the expense of people’s lives.”

 When asked on Wednesday, May 8, 2024 how the corporation squares its increasing reliance on Marlboro sales with its publicly stated goal of moving away from cigarettes, executives made it very clear that they intended to maintain their market share of cigarettes.

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 But advocates also addressed the fact that on Wednesday to the effect that contrary to its promises, PMI continues to market traditional cigarettes in countries where it has introduced its emerging tobacco products.

 There is also ample evidence that PMI is still marketing cigarettes to children, especially in countries of the Global South.

 “For decades, people around the world have come together to protect youth from Big Tobacco’s abuses. Now, we are at a pivotal moment to prevent corporations like PMI from addicting another generation to tobacco and nicotine, no matter the form. To do so, we must make Big Tobacco pay for its past abuses and prevent it from wreaking more damage on people and the planet,” Dorado stressed.

Joshua Okoria

Joshua Okoria is a Lagos based multi-skilled journalist covering the maritime industry. His ICT and graphic design skills makes him a resourceful person in any modern newsroom. He read mass communication at the Olabisi Onabanjo University and has sharpened his knowledge in media practice from several other short courses. 07030562600,

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