Massimo Andolina – President for Europe of Philip Morris International, for the latest product of the company in Bulgaria, the mission for a smoke-free future and the cost of inaction
IQOS ILUMA is the product with a major role in your portfolio and it is already in Bulgaria. How will it change the market for smoke-free alternatives in the country and across the EU?
Our most innovative smoke-free alternative to date, IQOS ILUMA, embodies Philip Morris International's commitment to building a smoke-free future. We listen to consumer feedback and build on our research and development to provide improved smoke-free alternatives with the potential for reduced harm to all those adult smokers who do not quit and still continue to smoke cigarettes.
Europe is key on our path to a smoke-free future: over the past eight years, we have launched various smoke-free alternatives – in most European markets – tobacco heating devices, some also e-cigarettes and, more recently, other nicotine products. In this way, we are expanding the possibilities for adult smokers to switch to these smoke-free products instead of continuing to smoke cigarettes. I am proud that for the whole of 2022 our net revenues from smoke-free products already exceed 40% of the net revenues in the region and that we are rapidly approaching the realization of our ambition - by 2025 at the latest to become a region where our revenues are mainly from smoke-free products.
The launch of IQOS ILUMA represents a significant milestone in the company's smoke-free transformation and an important change for millions of IQOS users around the world, including Bulgaria and Europe. Our most innovative smokeless alternative is the protagonist in the next chapter of the company's transformation.
- What are the results of IQOS ILUMA in other markets in the European Union?
- In Europe, the users of our leading smoke-free alternative are already in the millions, and our market share is approaching 10% on average for the region. This is also due to the IQOS ILUMA devices, which are currently available in most markets in Europe and in 27 markets worldwide, marking an accelerated pace of shift from traditional cigarettes to new smoke-free alternatives. In Europe, the product is now available to over 80% of users of previous IQOS models, and recently to adult users in Bulgaria.
Our transformation is taking place at high speed. In 2020 – six years after IQOS first launched in Italy in 2014 – we reached the historic one million adult users in this country. Three years later, in 2023, we're not far from reaching over 2.5 million consumers — that's people who would otherwise continue to smoke cigarettes.
- Philip Morris International is moving confidently towards the realization of its mission for a smoke-free future. Could you provide a little more information about the results achieved so far?
- We are confidently moving towards the realization of our vision - the company to become a company that offers mainly smoke-free products and eventually cease the production of cigarettes. Today, there are over 27 million IQOS users worldwide, with our goal of having at least 40 million adult smokers switch to our smoke-free alternatives by 2025, currently available in 82 markets and accounting for 36.2% of Philip Morris International's total net income in the third quarter of 2023. $15 in development, scientific evaluation, manufacturing, commercialization and continuous innovation for our smoke-free products. Today, we are proud to be able to offer a portfolio that includes multiple categories, science-based and potentially less harmful alternatives to cigarettes - with different operating principles, different technologies, in different price segments, so as to meet the different preferences and needs of adult smokers who do not stop smoking. While a transformation of this magnitude and complexity cannot take place all at once, these very encouraging results give us confidence that we are going in the right direction.
- Over 1 billion. People around the world continue to smoke. Why do you think the current traditional measures to limit smoking around the world are not enough?
According to forecasts of the World Health Organization, in the coming years the number of smokers in the world will remain about 1 billion. People. Most of the policies focusing solely on stopping smoking are a legacy of a time when smoke-free alternatives currently available on the market – the choice is much greater, both from e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products, as well as nicotine products for oral or other use. I must stress that traditional measures to curb smoking through prevention and cessation have a very important role to play in reducing the percentage of smokers and they will remain valid in the future, but the huge potential of more pragmatic regulatory and health approaches that include, in addition to advice on smoking cessation, the promotion of adult smokers cannot be ignored. who will continue to smoke, switch to smoke-free alternatives. They represent a new and effective means of achieving a smokeless future in many parts of the world.
In the 80s, smoking rates in Sweden were 35%. Today, Sweden is on track to become a completely smoke-free country for 17 years before 2040, as is the goal in the European Union, while all other EU countries will not be able to do so by that date. We already know that credible information and access to smoke-free alternatives are a factor that contributes to many adult smokers making informed choices to switch to potentially less harmful alternatives when they have the opportunity. This is undoubtedly an effective approach, especially when the years of traditional smoking restriction measures applied do not give the expected result.
It is time for governments and international health institutions to pay due attention to the harm reduction approach as a major component of tobacco regulation, if they are truly committed to achieving the goals of smokeless countries.
When it comes to regulation, governments often don't take scientific data into account and sometimes make decisions based on political or ideological biases. How does this affect people and public health?
Put simply, when policymakers neglect reliable scientific evidence to support smoke-free alternatives, they deprive adult smokers, their loved ones, and society at large of better choices with the potential to reduce tobacco harm. Thanks to advances in science and technology, including the progress made by our significant investments since 2008, there is now a wide range of smoke-free alternatives to cigarette smoking that science stands for. Ignoring science and innovation based on it does not help improve public health. This is what we call "the price of inaction." Who will take responsibility for the fact that millions of people who smoke will continue to smoke because no science-based approach to reducing the harm of smoking is adopted?
What is the role of different markets in this process? Can you give examples of countries that have adopted the approach of reducing the harm of tobacco and where good results are already being achieved from a public health point of view?
A smokeless future can only become a reality if all who share this ambition join forces. After decades of applying only traditional tobacco control measures, the time has come to honestly admit that these measures have their limitations and to include the harm reduction approach as a complementary component.
Fortunately, more and more health authorities, experts and governments are understanding the role of smoke-free alternatives as an option for the benefit of adult smokers and public health. Some countries are taking concrete steps in this direction: Bulgaria, for example, is one of the countries that take into account the different nature of smoke-free alternatives and introduced strict rules to provide consumers with information on the level of risk only when supported by scientific data. Other such countries include the U.K. with the 2030 Smoking Elimination Program, Greece and the Czech Republic have incorporated the harm reduction approach into their tobacco control legislation, the U.S. through FDA decisions on modified-risk products, and more. And, of course, Sweden, as I mentioned earlier, is the indisputable real-life example of an effective tobacco harm reduction policy with reporting results for the lowest incidence of diseases caused by smoking.
The material was published with the support of Philip Morris Bulgaria
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