Vassilis Gkatzelis, Managing Director of Philip Morris Egypt & Levant, participated, on Thursday, in a panel discussion via video conference which was organised by the London-based weekly newspaper The Economist.
During the panel, entitled “Creating an innovative future: The key to success post-crisis”, participants discussed how public and private sector companies have addressed the unprecedented challenges imposed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, in addition to Egypt’s economic status and updates amid the health crisis.
Gkatzelis said, “Philip Morris Misr is a key strategic investor and a committed partner to the sustainable progress of Egypt. It has established its Management Hub in Cairo, overseeing operations for Egypt & Levant markets.”
Philip Morris International (PMI) has taken a series of initiatives to ensure the safety and well-being of its people and broader communities; this has been clearly the top priority in such challenging times.
At the same time, business continuity was secured across the value chain, including local manufacturing and distribution, via strong collaboration with partners and digitalization of the route to market.
Besides addressing the challenges of the crisis, this is the time for every organization to reflect on its purpose and ways of creating a sustainable value for its stakeholders. In the case of PMI, the biggest positive impact we can have on society is through reducing the health impact of our products. Smoking causes serious diseases and the best way to avoid the harms of smoking is to never start or quit altogether.
Today, science-based innovative products that do not involve combustion, offer a better alternative for more than 1 billion adult smokers around the world who would otherwise decide to continue smoking. To be clear: these products are not risk-free, hence the best choice would be to cease using tobacco and nicotine altogether.
“At PMI, we are transforming the company from a tobacco to a science and technology powered organization to make our mission for a smoke-free future a reality,” Gkatzelis added.
Earlier this year, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorised the marketing of the IQOS, PMI`s electrically heated tobacco device, as a modified risk tobacco product (MRTP) with reduced exposure information. In doing so, the agency found that the issuance of the IQOS modified risk marketing orders would be “appropriate to promote the public health and is expected to benefit the health of the population as a whole.” This decision follows a review of the extensive scientific evidence package PMI submitted to the FDA.
“As of 30 September, we estimate that there were nearly 16.4 million total users of IQOS globally, of which 72% — or 11.7 million users — have stopped smoking and switched to IQOS, with the balance in various stages of conversion. This is a much higher conversion rate than has been observed for other smoke-free products around the world,” he stated.
“Philip Morris believes in the vitality of Egypt as its management hub and works together with the authorities and partners to introduce smoke–free products in the Egyptian market,” added Gkatzelis.
The panel was also attended by directors and representatives of local and international firms operating in the Egyptian market and broader region.