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WKF: Tobacco Companies Must Use Science to Reduce Harms of Smoking


Tobacco companies should take advantage of technology and innovation to provide better alternatives or less harmful products to smokers to allow countries to realistically end the sale of cigarettes within 10 to 15 years, said Andre Calantzopoulos, chief executive of Philip Morris International (PMI). 

“There are many human activities that are harmful – such as cigarette smoking – that science and scientific knowledge can, and are, helping to find solutions to reduce the harms they cause,” he said, in a virtual session on “How knowledge can help achieving a smoke-free future” at The 21st World Knowledge Forum on Friday. 

The CEO noted examples such as how the impact of climate change has made sustainability a key focus for governments and businesses and how fossil fuels are being phased out in favor of renewable energy. Automakers have also been shifting focus from gasoline to electric vehicles. 

“Tobacco and nicotine should also be part of this global conversation,” Calantzopoulos said. 

From such perspective, his company has been dedicating efforts to reduce the harm caused by cigarette smoking as there will be about the same number of smokers around the world in 2025 as today, according to the projection of the World Health Organization. 

“Today, we have the science, the technology, and the innovation that allow us to provide better alternatives to those who would otherwise continue smoking,” he said. “Cigarettes, a product that remained virtually unchanged for almost two centuries, can now be replaced by innovative, less harmful products.” 

Calantzopoulos noted that eliminating burning is most promising way to offer a less harmful alternative and “scientifically substantiated e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products do not burn tobacco but heat a liquid or a tobacco rod below combustion temperatures.” 

The CEO mentioned how the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently authorized the sale and marketing of PMI’s IQOS tobacco heating system as a modified risk tobacco product based on “review of the extensive scientific evidence package PMI submitted to the FDA.” 

“When properly regulated and subject to quality controls, they are much better options than cigarettes for adults who would otherwise continue to smoke,” he said. 

Calantzopoulos anticipated that many countries could realistically end the sale of cigarettes within 10 to 15 years “with the right regulatory encouragement and support from civil society.” 

By Lee Eun-joo

[Photo by Kim Jae-hoon]

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