The Union responds to tobacco giant claims to want a smoke-free England

The Union has issued the following statement in response to reports in the UK media that one of the largest tobacco companies in the world, Philip Morris International, claims to want a smoke-free England by 2040:

We, the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), are extremely concerned to see reports in sections of the UK media that Philip Morris International (PMI) claims to want a smoke-free England by 2040.

“The reports centre around new research funded by PMI -- a cynical marketing stunt to push people to use its products and to gain a seat at the table with public health policymakers. PMI sells products that cause disease and premature death when used as intended. It has no place in the public health debate. PMI’s new product agenda is driven by profit, not public health.” said José Luis Castro, The Union’s Executive Director.

For decades PMI and its peers have been peddling phoney science and telling lies about the devastation to health its products cause. Every year the tobacco industry makes billions of dollars in profit at the expense of the health of millions of people. Taxpayers also bear the expense, footing the bill for care and treatment of those who become ill because of tobacco use. And those who bear the greatest burden are those least able to afford it – 80 percent of the world’s smokers live in the poorest countries. These are broadly known facts. The evidence is out there and it is clear.

What is not clear is how new tobacco products impact rates of tobacco use. There is no conclusive evidence to show that e-cigarettes and heat-not-burn tobacco products are effective for reducing tobacco use. And there is no long-term evidence on the health impacts of using these products. At the same time, there is conclusive evidence that they are aggressively promoted to children through candy flavourings and powerful marketing campaigns.

Greater promotion of e-cigarettes and heat-not-burn may well re-normalise smoking and threatens to distract governments from the real work of public health – investing in evidence-based measures proven to reduce tobacco use as recommended by the World Health Organization.

More than seven million people die each year at the hands of the tobacco industry – it is ironic that PMI have been attempting to position themselves as guardians of health and the champions of tobacco control.

Read The Union's statement denouncing the launch of PMI's 'Smoke-free World' foundation.

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