Philip Morris might stop selling cigarettes in the UK?

Philip Morris International made a seemingly startling claim the other day – that the company is looking to drop cigarettes altogether in the United Kingdom within 10 years.

PMI is a spin-off of Altria, which was the umbrella corporation over the old Philip Morris company in the U.S. PMI runs Philip Morris’ old assets around the world outside of the U.S. I know it’s confusing … it is a completely different company from Altria.

From NBC News:

“I want to allow this company to leave smoking behind,” CEO Jacek Olczak told The Mail on Sunday, a U.K. tabloid. ‘I think in the U.K., 10 years from now maximum, you can completely solve the problem of smoking.”

While it’s not the first time he has made such a pronouncement, when it comes to ending smoking in America, the tone is a little softer.

The caveat is PMI is apparently considering moving toward something called “tobacco sticks.” I’m not 100 percent positive, but these tobacco sticks, which PMI calls IQOS, are different from e-cigs.

From NBC:

These smoke-free products include PMI’s IQOS heated tobacco device, which in early July received limited FDA approval to be marketed as a modified-risk tobacco product that reduces a person’s exposure to harmful chemicals. Altria is the exclusive licensee of the device in the United States, where it will be sold by Philip Morris USA, which makes Marlboro cigarettes for the domestic market.


So, they “sort of kind of” are thinking of getting out of the cigarette business. Maybe the UK will be their initial test market. I don’t see PMI getting out of the cigarette business worldwide. They sell a LOT of cigarettes in Europe, especially Eastern Europe, the Philippines and Indonesia, one of the heaviest-smoking countries in the world.

From the article:

Critics are skeptical of the company’s motives.

“If PMI were serious about banning combustible cigarettes within 10 years, it would strongly support strong new government action now to make cigarettes (and all similarly smoked tobacco products) less attractive, less addictive, more expensive, and otherwise less readily available to both smokers and nonsmokers, especially youth,” said Eric Lindblom, a law professor at Georgetown University. “But they have not done that.”

More sleaze from Juul

And speaking of sleaze from Juul

Wow, Juul just keeps copying the 1960s tobacco industry.

Seriously, this is a move straight out of the old Tobacco Insitute for Research Committee, a front organization for the tobacco industry to discredit scientific studies on tobacco and cancer.

The TIRC was active from the late 50s to the 70s. Turns out Juul has been doing something very similar.

Juul founded some fake pro-vaping studies, then actually paid for a scholarly publication to publish them. Jesus, a double-whammy of sleaze here.

The FDA may be issuing a ruling in September whether or not to ban nicotine vaping products. Apparently, Juul’s little scheme was designed to influence that decision, but fortunately, it got outed.

From a Philadelphia Inquirer article:

In less than two months, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is supposed to decide, at long last, whether the company most responsible for the teenage vaping epidemic should be stopped, or at least restrained, from marketing its e-cigarettes.

The decision will hinge on whether scientific research shows that Juul’s sleek nicotine-delivery device has public health benefits. Does it enable smokers to break or reduce their addiction to cigarettes? Or does it primarily lead to dual use of e-cigs and traditional cigarettes, while luring nonsmokers — especially young people — into nicotine addiction?

Juul, which is partly owned by tobacco giant Altria, decided to add to that scientific evidence.

Juul paid more than $50,000 to a scholarly journal so it would devote the entire May-June issue to 11 studies that Juul funded, all showing vaping is a public health boon. The availability of e-cigs could “avert millions of premature deaths in the U.S.,” one Juul study concluded.

But Juul’s gambit may have backfired.

Three members of the editorial board of the 45-year-old American Journal of Health Behavior resigned in protest, while editor and publisher Elbert D. Glover retired shortly after the “Special Issue on JUUL Use” was published, according to The New York Times.

I love this part of the Inquirer article:

[A peer reviewer] shared with the Inquirer the email from Glover to scores of potential reviewers. “Peer reviewers” are usually not paid, but Glover offered $75 per review if it could be turned in quickly — one week. He said the special issue was on “e-cigarettes” in general and did not mention that the authors of the 12 studies were on Juul’s payroll. The actual manuscripts redacted the name of the sponsor.

The design of one study she reviewed seemed so biased that she recommended rejecting it. “I thought, ‘No way it wasn’t funded by Juul.’ ” She questioned Glover about it. Soon, he sent another email to the group.

“It has been brought to my attention that some reviewers were unaware that the special issue on e-cigarettes is being funded by JUUL,” Glover wrote. “My apologies for not alerting everyone. … I honestly did not believe it to be a concern as the comprehensive reviews always purge weak or biased manuscripts.”

The whole thing smacks of desperation from Juul. They know the hammer is coming down soon.

E-cigarettes like Juul MIGHT have some benefit in helping SOME people quit smoking … I’ve always tried to keep an open mind about this. But when Juul resorts to this kind of sleaze and dishonestly, they know the truth. And the truth is Juul and other e-cig companies have hooked millions of kids on nicotine and that a big percentage of those kids move on to cigarettes to get their nicotine fix. It appears that e-cigs likely do a lot more harm than good.

Juul settles with North Carolina for $40 million

I expect this will be the first of many, many, MANY settlements paid out by Juul in lawsuits and investigations both into its business practices and its targeting teens with advertising. Juul has been an especially sleazy company for years and the roosters are finally starting to come home to roost.

The North Carolina Attorney General’s Office began an investigation into Juul’s targeting of minors in 2018. During that investigation, the courts found that Juul illegally destroyed documents, ignored court orders and wasted the state’s time by loading them with irrelevant documents.

Juul agreed to pay a $40 million settlement because its court fines for its actions were actually much more.

From a CNBC article:

“North Carolina is now the first state in the nation to hold Juul accountable for its instrumental role in creating a youth vaping epidemic,” North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said at a press conference revealing the agreement Monday.

North Carolina kicked off its investigation in 2018 and announced the lawsuit the following year. In May, the judge for the case ruled that Juul destroyed documents, provided thousands of pages of irrelevant information and ignored related court orders. The company faced millions of dollars in fines tied to that decision, but the agreement announced Monday will wipe that slate clean.

Under the agreement, Juul will not be able to target its advertising to minors, use anyone in its marketing materials who is younger than 35 years old or pay for influencers to promote its products, among other restrictions.

Here’s the great news. There’s nine other states that have filed similar lawsuits against Juul and a coalition of 39 states is investigating Juul.

I predict that when it’s all said and done, Juul will end up paying over $1 billion in various settlements for its advertising and business practices and Altria will happily pay it with its massive legal war chest as the price of doing business.

Altria (Philip Morris, Marlboro) bought a controlling share into Juul in 2018 and most of the company’s execs from its heyday 3 to 5 years ago quietly scurried off.

Rick and Morty comes out against vaping

I wrote several years ago about a Simpsons episode that came out pretty strongly against vaping.

Add Rick and Morty to the list of cartoons opposed to vaping. Surprisngly to me, because Rick and Morty just doesn’t really take on causes, the show and Adult Swim along with the Truth campaign did an anti-vaping commercial that shows pretty extensively on Adult Swim.

I say surprising because I’ve come to know a lot of Rick and Morty fans, and they love being edgelords and anti-politically correct. To the point of being straight up annoying about it. Kind of like Bill Hicks fans.

Anyway, it’s a pretty good ad about the toxic metals that are found in vaping materials, maybe it will actually get through to younger R&M viewers. Check it out, I posted it below. I feel like the tide has turned against vaping (more on that later this month), and this is just part of the public perceptions changing that vaping is either cool or harmless.

I don’t expect Bojack Horseman to do an anti-smoking commercial any time soon.