Philip Morris International unveiled a new direction to pivot its 170-year-old business to promote a smoke-free Philippine society during an information technology summit held in Pasay City on Oct. 22.
PMFTC president Denis Gorkun made the bold revelation in his presentation during the plenary session of the “SOFTCON.ph 7: The Philippine Software Industry Conference” organized by the Philippine Software Industry Association, a non-profit organization composed of around 150 IT companies. PMFTC Inc. is the Philippine affiliate of PMI.
Gorkun cited a need for PMI to innovate responsibly but stressed that this was more difficult in practice as he referenced removing combustion.
Recognizing the fact that anything put on fire produces harmful chemicals, PMI is taking on the challenge to develop and commercialize products that are better alternatives to continued smoking.
“As a company we have developed—and continue to develop—a suite of smoke-free platforms that eliminate combustion but deliver the experience that people who would otherwise continue to smoke desire,” Gorkun said.
Gorkun said the new PMI vision is anchored on an advocacy they call “Unsmoke” which focuses on three simple messages: “If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you smoke, quit. If you don’t quit, change.”
In his remarks, Gorkun said: “despite the implementation of stricter measures [on smoking], the cold hard reality is that there are still 16 million smokers in the Philippines with a cold turkey quit rate of just 4 percent. The World Health Organization estimates that there will still be more than one billion smokers worldwide in 2030, about the same level of smokers we have today.”
Gorkun said to address the legitimate public health concerns related to smoking, PMI had invested $6 billion in research and development and tapped over 400 scientific experts. They produced hundreds of studies that have been peer-reviewed or in the process of being peer reviewed.
One such smoke-free product in PMI’s portfolio, Gorkun said is IQOS, a tobacco heating system that does not burn tobacco and instead heats it to produce an aerosol vapor containing nicotine.
He said that nicotine, although not entirely risk-free and is addicting, is not the primary cause of smoking-related diseases. He said it is the smoke that releases thousands of harmful chemicals that gets people sick.
“This type of pivot doesn’t happen overnight. It requires new people, new technology and new systems. But most importantly it requires a new mindset—to an enterprise that is leaner, faster and committed to staying ahead, and staffed with professionals who can operate in a consumer-centric, omni-channel environment,” the PMFTC president said.