Philip Morris Giving Up Cigarette Business, Developing New Technology To Replace Traditional Tobacco Products

Critics of Philip Morris believe new anti-smoking initiative is a publicity stunt.

Philip Morris plans to stop making tobacco cigarettes in UK.
Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Critics of Philip Morris believe new anti-smoking initiative is a publicity stunt.

Cigarette maker Philip Morris has a bold New Year’s resolution. After more than a century, the maker of Marlboro has plans to get out of the cigarette-selling business in the U.K. While Philip Morris announced the initiative to stop selling cigarettes, it is not getting out of the tobacco industry entirely.

The company announced the ambitious plan by taking out multiple ads in British newspapers. The campaign’s idea is to help people quit smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes and ultimately replace them with other products like e-cigarettes. In addition, Philip Morris intends to update packaging to include information about quitting smoking and using alternatives instead.

“Philip Morris is known for cigarettes,” read one ad, as reported by the Independent. “Every year, many smokers give them up. Now it’s our turn.”

Some critics are wondering if Philip Morris really means it. As reported by CBS News, Erika Sward, with the American Lung Association isn’t buying the company’s new ad campaign.

“This is the same-old, same-old from a company that’s a convicted racketeer. Make no mistake, Philip Morris is still very much in the tobacco and cigarette business as well as the cigar and the smokeless [tobacco] business.”

Seeing the trend against smoking traditional cigarettes, Philip Morris has been researching alternative tobacco products for years. One technology for heating tobacco called iQOS is currently sold by the company in about 24 countries. While Philip Morris promotes the technology as a safer alternative to burning tobacco, it is not currently approved for use in the U.S.

Philip Morris changing from tobacco cigarettes to other alternatives in the UK.
Philip Morris wants customers in the U.K. to switch to alternative tobacco products. Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Even actively developing alternatives to smoking to help people quit isn’t enough to satisfy some critics of Philip Morris and other tobacco companies. Several anti-smoking groups and even the U.S. surgeon general are critical of e-cigarettes.

“Besides increasing the possibility of addiction and long-term harm to brain development and respiratory health, e-cigarette use is associated with the use of other tobacco products that can do even more damage to the body,” wrote the surgeon general, as quoted by the Huffington Post. “Even breathing e-cigarette aerosol that someone else has exhaled poses potential health risks.”

Despite the possible health risks, people will continue to smoke despite any plan for Philip Morris to stop selling cigarettes. The company did not specify an exact date for the withdrawal from the manufacture of traditional tobacco cigarettes. Nearly 8 million people in the U.K. smoke and only time will tell if the anti-smoking initiative from Philip Morris will work to cut that statistic down.