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Philip Morris is trying to quit cigarettes

Philip Morris is trying to quit cigarettes
[Photo: Ali Yahya/ Unsplash]

Philip Morris International is taking a smoke break. It’s not stepping outside for a drag on a Marlboro, though, but trying to take an actual break from cigarettes. That’s right, the world’s largest publicly traded tobacco company announced that its New Year’s resolution is to give up cigarettes.

In a manifesto published on its website, the company explains that it plans to help people quit smoking traditional cigarettes in the hopes of replacing them with smoke-free alternatives like e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products. To prove its earnestness, the company took out full-page ads in several newspapers in the United Kingdom, claiming it is working toward a smoke-free future where it doesn’t sell traditional cigarettes.

To be clear, Philip Morris is not giving up tobacco, just cigarettes. The company claims that cigarette alternatives are less harmful and that it “can achieve a significant public-health benefit only when a large number of these smokers switch from cigarettes to better products.” While this is a long way from the years when cigarette company heads paraded in front of Congress claiming that tobacco is not addictive, the idea that some tobacco products are safer or less harmful than others is potentially “misleading,” according to the World Health Organization.

Philip Morris is not being particularly altruistic here. Global e-cigarette sales amount to around $5 billion a year, and are expected to grow more than 16% per year through 2022.

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