One of the world’s biggest tobacco companies, Philip Morris, has placed an anti-smoking advertisement in some newspapers in the UK. The company owns the Marlboro brand, and the ad it has published promotes the company’s “ambition to stop selling cigarettes in the United Kingdom.” In what can only be described as a complete U-turn, the firm wants to move to a “smoke-free future”.
Philip Morris claims to be dedicated to a smoke-free future
This is not the only action that the company has taken in order to achieve reinventing the UK without cigarettes. The company has also written to Prime Minister Theresa May, asking for her permission to print information about quitting smoking on its cigarette packs. The company has pledged that it wants to expand the current availability of alternative and new products in the country, as well as providing support to Local Authority cessation services where smoking rates are at their highest.
This comes as the UK government announced its aim to reduce smoking rates to 12 per cent from 15.5 per cent within the next four years. This is as part of the Tobacco Control Plan, which Peter Nixon, managing director of Philip Morris, has said they fully support. He also said that the government plan was a big step forward in acknowledging that e-cigarettes, as well as other alternative products, play a massive role in achieving this goal.
What is the Tobacco Control Plan? This is a plan that aims to not only reduce smoking rates, as mentioned above but reduce the number of 15-year-olds who regularly smoke (from 8 per cent to 3 per cent). It also aims to lower the prevalence of smoking in pregnancy (from 10.5 per cent to 6 per cent) and the inequality gap in smoking prevalence between the general population and those in manual and routine occupations.
Is the company really trying to do something for the good of the UK?
However, some have been quick to criticise the firm, accusing Philip Morris of hypocrisy. Cancer Research UK has spoken out, stating that the company is not trying to help people quit smoking but merely trying to promote alternative products, for example, their heated tobacco. The tobacco policy manager at Cancer Research UK, George Butterworth, stated that the best way Philip Morris could help create a smoke-free Britain was by stopping the production of cigarettes altogether.
Cancer Research UK is not the only charity to come out and criticise Philip Morris. Action on Smoking and Health also criticised the campaign, stating that they believed it was the company’s attempt to get around the anti-tobacco advertising rules. What’s your take on the matter?