I like to imagine that solving a complex problem is like undertaking a journey in uncharted waters. You may not know exactly what you will encounter and must always remain agile – but if you uphold a clear vision of what you’ve set out to achieve and hold on to your courage, you will find your way.
For Philip Morris International (PMI), our direction couldn’t be clearer: deliver a smoke-free future. We are putting our money where our mouth is and have invested more than $8 billion to develop scientifically substantiated alternatives for adults who would otherwise continue to smoke.
Let’s have no doubt that the best thing to do is to never start smoking or to quit, but those who don’t quit deserve better choices than staying with cigarettes.
I realize it seems counterintuitive for a tobacco company to want to stop selling cigarettes, but today, science and technology have made it possible for smoke-free alternatives to exist. By eliminating the burning of tobacco, by eliminating smoke, innovative alternatives can produce significantly lower levels of harmful chemicals compared with cigarette smoke.
Every day we are advancing toward a time when cigarettes will be a thing of our past. We will not stop. My job is to keep PMI laser focused on the evolution of the science and technology that is driving us to a smoke-free future. Our future will be smoke-free. For PMI, there is no going back.
The progress we are making towards our smoke-free goal is remarkable. Just six years ago essentially 100 percent of our total net revenues came from cigarettes. At the end of 2020, nearly 25 percent came from our smoke-free products. And in 2025, we aim to be a predominantly smoke-free product business, with more than 50 percent of our total net revenues coming from these products.
I am proud of the tremendous progress we are making to go smoke-free and I am optimistic that we will achieve this goal—but I’m also a pragmatist. To reach a smoke-free future, we need the right mix of government leadership and commercial ingenuity.
Together we can dramatically accelerate efforts to reduce the prevalence of smoking and America is helping lead the way. In this country, the Food and Drug Administration has powerful tools to scientifically review better alternatives for adults who would otherwise continue to smoke, while establishing clear rules to maximize the opportunity for adults to switch from cigarettes and minimize unintended use—particularly by youth.
Ultimately, replacing cigarettes rests on individuals choosing to change. Adults need access to, and information about, products that are better than staying with cigarettes. They have a right to choose better. Big change starts with just one person making a big decision. Americans who smoke need a range of smoke-free choices today and a range of choices tomorrow. Not every solution is right for every smoker.
Importantly, in countries where smoke-free products are already available, we are starting to see their real-world impact: Cigarette smoking is declining at an accelerated rate. For example, a study by U.S. researchers concluded that cigarette sales in Japan fell five times faster over a four-year period following the introduction of smoke-free products than recorded previously over the same period.
I believe that with the right regulatory and societal support, cigarette sales can end within 10 to 15 years in many countries around the world and I’m committed to doing my part to make this a reality.