Philip Morris International, tobacco control and scientific integrity

Philip Morris International (PMI) held a panel discussion on « Scientific integrity and why it matters for public health » on September 20th at the 5th Tobacco Harm Reduction Summit in Athens, Greece. The event was also accessible online.

The speakers were:

– Prof. Giovanni Li Volti, Director of the Center of Excellence for the Acceleration of Harm Reduction (CoEHAR)

– Dr Peter Harper, physician and medical oncologist, consultant for PMI

– Alexander Skouras, President – Kefim, the Center for Liberal studies, in Athens

– Gizelle Baker, Vice-President Global Scientific Engagement, PMI

According to Dr Peter Harper, the decreasing rate of smoking prevalence is good news but “despite steep decline in prevalence, there are still almost 1 billion smokers… If we don’t reduce the number of smokers, we will not reduce the number of lung cancers and other smoking-related diseases”.

He proceeded to put forward his expectations on lung cancer morbidity & mortality: “On 1 billion smokers, we expect 80 million lung cancers and 64 million lung cancer deaths”  he pessimistically projected. “We need the whole story to understand success or failure. We need new solutions both for helping people to quit and reducing the harm for those who cannot. It will lead to reducing the number of people who smoke cigarettes”.

PMI - Tobacco control and scientific integrity

PMI – Tobacco control and scientific integrity

The 5th Scientific Summit on Tobacco Harm Reduction opened in Athens on September 21st, 2022, for two days with attendance – physical and virtual – of over 240 participants from 41 countries.

PMI has been going through a major transformation that led them to claim that they now want to “deliver a smoke free future”. Since 2008, the company has spent more than $9 billion as investment in the research and development of smoke-free products.

“We are building PMI’s future on  smoke-free products that-while not risk-free-are a far better choice than cigarette smoking”, they say on their website.

The company aimed to be a majority smoke free business by 2025.

These “new solutions” are for the most part, e-cigarettes, heated tobacco and other nicotine products that are, according to some studies, less harmful than traditional cigarettes.

Gizelle Baker presented on the impact of the introduction of heated tobacco in Japan, South Korea and Norway. In Japan more prominently, there was a major drop in combustible cigarettes use these last years. A study published  in May 2020 by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health and mentioned by Mrs Baker, registered a huge 34.2% drop between 2015 and 2019, within which period the sales of heated tobacco increased from 5.1 billion sticks to 37.1 billion sticks. The study concludes that this decrease coincides with the introduction of non-combustible alternatives in 2014.

PMI has been going through a major transformation that led them to claim that they now want to “deliver a smoke free future”. Since 2008, the company has spent more than $9 billion as investment in the research and development of smoke-free products.

“We are building PMI’s future on  smoke-free products that—while not risk-free—are a far better choice than cigarette smoking”, they say on their website.

The company aimed to be a majority smoke free business by 2025.

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