Philip Morris International's chief executive told the Daily Mail on Sunday his company will stop selling cigarettes in Great Britain within the next decade.
Jacek Olczak, who became the company's CEO in May, said the plans were part of PMI's drive to phase out traditional cigarette smoking in the United Kingdom, the Daily Mail reported.
The tobacco giant produces the Marlboro brand, which has been available in Britain for more than a century.
"It will disappear," Olczak said of Marlboro. "The first choice for consumers is they should quit smoking. But if they don't, the second-best choice is to let them switch to the better alternatives."
Olczak told The Mail that people who want to continue smoking will be encouraged to use less-harmful modern alternatives such as e-cigarettes or heated tobacco devices.
The Independent said PMI is pushing the iQOS, which stands for "I quit original smoking," which is a device that heats tobacco to give the user nicotine without smoke and tar.
"I want to allow this company to leave smoking behind," Olczak told The Mail. "I think in the U.K., 10 years from now maximum, you can completely solve the problem of smoking."
Asked by The Mail if that meant PMI would stop selling traditional cigarettes in Great Britain within 10 years, he replied: "Absolutely."
The British government has formulated plans to go "smoke-free" by 2030. The U.K will reach that status when the nation's smoking rates are less than 5%.
Scotland's aims to achieve the smoke-free goal by 2034, with no dates set yet for Wales or Northern Ireland, NPR reported.
A recent government report said smoking will kill more people in the U.K. than COVID-19, both last year and this year, NPR said.
Olczak told The Sunday Telegraph that government action would help to end the confusion currently felt by smokers, some of whom still think that the "alternatives are worse than cigarettes."
"Give them a choice of smoke-free alternatives, with the right regulation and information, it can happen 10 years from now in some countries," he said, The Independent reported. "You can solve the problem once and forever."
Olczak said PMI could "see the world without cigarettes … and actually, the sooner it happens, the better it is for everyone."
PMI said that it wants half of its revenue to come from products unrelated to smoking as it becomes a "healthcare and wellness company." It wants to "unsmoke the world" and phase out cigarettes.
NPR reported the pushback against cigarettes is tied to the severe health problems caused by smoking highly addictive tobacco globally.
The World Health Organization said "the tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced." It accounts for more than eight million deaths annually, NPR reported.
Anti-smoking advocates also claim tobacco companies are trying to position themselves as part of the solution to a smoke-free world while simultaneously selling and promoting cigarettes.
Advocates have accused PMI of hypocrisy for promoting an end to traditional cigarettes while launching a takeover bid for Vectura, a British pharmacy company that makes inhalers for asthma.
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