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.”