Philip Morris International recently hosted its seventh Technovation at the Cube, the company’s R&D center in Neuchatel, Switzerland. The event provides stakeholders the opportunity to interact with senior leaders, scientists and R&D experts from PMI.
According to PMI, the conversations focused on the crucial roles that innovation, technology and science can play in enabling a better future for everyone—highlighting the call to harness the full potential of innovation and evidence-based policies that are needed to steer the collective efforts toward eliminating smoking.
“It is no longer a case of if smoke-free alternatives are better than cigarette smoking; it is a case of by how much,” said PMI CEO Jacek Olczak in a statement. “Based on WHO [World Health Organization] and other third-party data, our hypothetical model shows that if smoke-free products are assumed to be 80 percent less risky than cigarettes—and if people who currently smoke were to switch to them completely—then over their lifetime, there’s a potential for a tenfold reduction in smoking-attributable deaths compared with historical tobacco control measures alone.”
Gregoire Verdeaux, PMI’s senior vice president of external affairs, led a discussion on what success looks like when regulating smoke-free alternatives. Citing Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden, the U.K., the U.S. and other countries, Verdeaux made the case for inclusive and innovative frameworks that have complemented traditional tobacco control measures in expediting the decline of smoking.
“The number of smokers globally has remained virtually unchanged for the past 30 years,” said Verdeaux, who said the upcoming session of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (COP10)—which was recently postponed to 2024 due to civil unrest in its host country, Panama—presents a chance to change the global smoking rates status quo.
“The COP10 could be used an as opportunity to bring all stakeholders together, consider the comprehensive science on nicotine alternatives and create guidelines that can help reduce harm for hundreds of millions of smokers around the world. Unfortunately, this is not the case, but we hope that this will change in future for the benefit of a billion smokers and global public health,” said Verdeaux.
Tommaso Di Giovanni, PMI’s vice president of international communications and engagement, discussed what more can be done to encourage innovation in the tobacco industry. He said, “Better alternatives to cigarettes exist, and scientific data support their potential to be less harmful. The missing piece of the puzzle is the collective effort of governments, the public health community, our industry and civil society to make these alternatives accessible to adult smokers who do not quit. To support this transformation, we envision to become a majority smoke-free-led entity, with smoke-free options now accounting for over 36 percent of total net revenues, following third-quarter financial results.”