The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which took place last week, witnessed remarkable participation from global economic institutions and organizations, which have become key contributors to building and shaping the future. Various panel discussions were hosted by major companies who invited economic experts, scientists, and political figures to deliberate around the world’s issues and challenges. This year’s theme was ‘Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World’, where Philip Morris International (PMI) felt it is relevant for it to take part and share its vision and mission toward achieving a ‘smoke-free future’. In a designated lounge that was named ‘Unsmoke your Mind’, PMI experts and scientists were keen to provide the latest science and data around the company’s portfolio of smoke-free products, including the flagship IQOS, which heats tobacco instead of burning it, within the category of ‘reduced-risk products’.
“We are all here to solve tough, global challenges … enter and make a difference” is the statement posted at the entrance of PMI lounge, showcasing the company’s eagerness to effectively leave a mark within the context of the event.
The key theme of PMI’s participation in Davos focused on the vision of pioneering a smoke-free future, where adult smokers who would otherwise continue smoking switch to better, smoke-free, alternatives that do not burn tobacco. To this end, PMI developed and scientifically assessed a range of smoke-free products that present a much better choice than cigarettes, driven by science, technology, and innovation.
Commenting on the event and PMI’s participation, Vassilis Gkatzelis, Managing Director Egypt & Levant, said “while it is best to quit tobacco and nicotine altogether or never to start using them, the reality is that there are millions of adult smokers who would otherwise continue smoking in the absence of a better alternative. Science and technology have now created these better alternatives, and these adult smokers should have access to them. Denying them access to these science-based better products means they will continue to smoke.”
PMI distributed a white paper that included rich content showcasing the urgency of new regulations that support the move towards a smoke-free world, where cigarettes eventually become a matter of the past. The focal point in the white paper highlighted that while it is best to quit cigarettes or never to start smoking, smokers who don’t quit have the right to have information about, and access to, better alternatives that are backed by scientific evidence.
On this point, Gkatzelis stated that “it is important to ground regulatory decision-making in science and facts. When it comes to PMI, we follow strict transparency in sharing the science behind our smoke-free products, making it open for all, be that governments, regulators, scientists, academics or the general public, to check and validate our scientific methodology and findings.”
PMI scientists demonstrated to interested audiences how products such as IQOS operate, highlighting how nicotine, despite being an addictive substance, is not the primary cause of smoking-related diseases, given that it is the burning of tobacco that generates the vast amount of harmful chemicals that are associated with smoking-related diseases.
Furthermore, PMI highlighted that while it is vital to provide better alternatives to adult smokers who would otherwise continue smoking, it is equally important to insure that such products do not appeal to youth or those who have never smoked, or have successfully quit.. To this end, strict marketing and commercialization practices have been put into place to ensure that IQOS and the like do not fall in the hands of unintended audiences.
Throughout the event, PMI introduced examples of progressive legislation that has been achieved in several countries such as the United States (where the FDA authorized the sale of IQOS), the UK, and Japan, among others, whereby better alternatives to cigarettes enjoy differentiated regulation based on science, in order to encourage adult smokers to make the switch away from cigarettes.
Throughout the conference, PMI leaders have engaged with guests in fruitful conversations and answered questions with full transparency that is backed by data and science.