Tobacco firm Philip Morris calls for ban on cigarettes within decade
July 25, 2021 9:13 AM   Subscribe

 
In the UK
posted by wittgenstein at 9:18 AM on July 25 [11 favorites]


Lest anyone get the impression that this is a sacrificial gesture, the industry has run as far as it can on obfuscating and denying the deleterious health effects and lethality of smoking, they are feeling the bite of the many, many venues which are now prohibited to smoking, and they are now well positioned to shift into vaping as the nicotine delivery system of preference.

So it’s time to “make virtue of necessity” and appear like they are taking a health-conscious stand, when it’s really about positioning nicotine addiction for the new century.
posted by darkstar at 9:31 AM on July 25 [82 favorites]


If they can build a high enough regulatory fence around the vaping market to suppress competition for a few years, then this will benefit them. That's an uninformed guess of course.
posted by rdr at 9:32 AM on July 25 [14 favorites]


It also lets them get out of the cigarette business while being sure their competitors don’t benefit.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:33 AM on July 25 [39 favorites]


It's the same as DuPont calling for the banning of its previous propellants as the patents expire. Philip Morris has been seeing continual downturns in their cigarette industry for ages now while seeing massive growth in IQOS, their e-cigarette tech which has been far more profitable.

If cigarettes are banned it means competitors who haven't shifted to e-cigarette technology will be driven out of the market leaving more of it for the major players.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:37 AM on July 25 [13 favorites]


Tobacco had its run; time for these companies to pivot to Big Weed.
posted by LooseFilter at 9:43 AM on July 25 [8 favorites]


To be clear, this is Philip Morris International, not to be confused with Philip Morris USA, which is a subsidiary of Altria. Marlboro cigarettes are manufactured by both PMUSA (in the US), and PMI (outside the US).

Tobacco had its run; time for these companies to pivot to Big Weed.

They see the writing on the wall. PMI, Altria, and other tobacco companies have laid the investment groundwork for that. Altria has also made major investments in alcoholic beverages.
posted by jedicus at 9:45 AM on July 25 [2 favorites]


You’d think an industry started in large part by slave holders would have modernized quicker. Sarcasmfilter.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 10:01 AM on July 25 [8 favorites]


I worked in the tobacco business for several years. (Don't worry, I've reformed.)
RDR hit the nail on the head.

The idea of "big tobacco" as a powerful business interest has been obsolete for a long time now; there have been two tobacco lobbies: PM/Altria, and everyone else. While everyone else is fundraising and campaigning against tobacco regulations, PM actively undermines those efforts. For decades, long before vaping was even a glimmer on the horizon, PM/Altria's lobbyists have supported every new tax, regulation and restriction on tobacco and tobacco products. Let me be clear: everyone in the tobacco business HATES Altria, possibly even more than public health groups do.

It's a very weird case of regulatory capture? perverse incentives? perversely positive incentives? Basically, PM's market share is so unassailable (particularly, and crucially, in the global market) that anything that hurts the tobacco business generally just slows their competitors and prevents the kind of innovation and "market disruption" that could allow a new serious competitor to emerge. The sheen of "social consciousness" that they get from framing it as somehow connected in any way to a concern for public health is just extra polish on the turd.

Remember, US and UK markets haven't really been profitable for years. Altria is utterly, unassailably dominant in the vast majority of the world where 1. smoking is still extremely common and 2. it is vanishingly unlikely that a serious competitor could emerge. Now that vaping and legal weed is offering an exit strategy in the wealthy western countries, fully banning their competitors is just the logical next step of a market strategy that has been serving them very well for a long time.
posted by Krawczak at 10:22 AM on July 25 [104 favorites]


Finally Mission Winnow starts to make a bit of sense.

It was a weird advertising collaboration between PMI and Ferrari Formula One team, ostensibly to get around the Tobacco advertising ban in F1 (and other countries), but when you read the website it sounds a lot like timecube.

Thanks for the insight Krawczak!
posted by some loser at 10:45 AM on July 25


"In five years the Corleone family is going to be completely legitimate. Trust me."
posted by verstegan at 10:48 AM on July 25 [28 favorites]


Philip Morris International (PMI) recently said it wanted half its turnover to come from non-smoking products as it morphs into a “healthcare and wellness company” with executive pay tied to its new mission to “unsmoke the world” by phasing out cigarettes.

Sure.
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:51 AM on July 25 [8 favorites]


Just want to +1 darkstar. That was well-said.
posted by thelonius at 11:17 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


There's a large global drug company that I won't mention by name that has been investing very heavily in treatments (not cures) for the downstream effects of air pollution and smoking in countries like China and the US. These are drugs used to treat COPD, small-cell lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, that sort of thing. There is likely a lot of money in PMI repositioning itself as a "healthcare" company to treat the conditions caused by their products. I imagine their research divisions have already done a fair bit of work along these lines over the decades, and a fair bit of profitable data sharing and patent development to be potentially done with the aforementioned drug company (amongst others).
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:23 AM on July 25 [4 favorites]


They figure cigarettes are on the way out anyway, and they'll make more money selling whatever they're gonna sell next if they do a little reputation rehab. It'll probably work, too. Funny how rarely moral bankruptcy seems to coincide with actual bankruptcy.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 11:30 AM on July 25 [2 favorites]


The way of he future is cannabis, until we discover it is bad for you.
posted by TRAJAN at 11:39 AM on July 25



To be clear, this is Philip Morris International, not to be confused with Philip Morris USA, which is a subsidiary of Altria. Marlboro cigarettes are manufactured by both PMUSA (in the US), and PMI (outside the US).


I hope you're not implying we might see a situation where the rest of the world develops more enlightened social policy while the US continues to exalt Profit! And Freedom™ [to do stupid things] over preventing self-harm. That would be unthinkable,
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:06 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


While I'm not versed in the subsidiary game, Phillip Morris may have their sights set on other substances. They've most notably had a few patents on disposable DMT vape pens. They have enough money to play the long game; they have a number of patents around thus far illegal but probably legally regulated soon psychedelic and other heavier mental health medications.

I would say that it's within the realm of possible that the company is attempting to rebrand itself as a pharmaceutical or pharmaceutical-adjacent company...and potentially leapfrogging cannabis more or less altogether. While they have shown interest and purchased medical cannabis companies, they haven't done this widely and they have not done so with recreational cannabis entities, as far as I'm aware.
posted by furnace.heart at 1:22 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


The way of he future is cannabis, until we discover it is bad for you.

There is a mountain of scientific evidence that demonstrates that alcohol is bad for you. It's still racked and stacked in my local grocery store. So I'm not sure what you think will happen when your "until" hits.
posted by SPrintF at 3:00 PM on July 25 [10 favorites]


"So it’s time to “make virtue of necessity” and appear like they are taking a health-conscious stand, when it’s really about positioning nicotine addiction for the new century." - Darkstar (above)

I would propose that while they are creating their new addictive products they want this ban so they can be absolutely sure that the cigarette as it is now cannot be sold in the UK.

In other words, they want to eliminate the original source and I have no doubt that our UK politicians will be bribed backhanded bought persuaded that this is a good thing.
posted by I shot a fox in Skyrim and it made me sad at 3:02 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


I would say that it's within the realm of possible that the company is attempting to rebrand itself as a pharmaceutical or pharmaceutical-adjacent company...

Not such a farfetched idea. Japan Tobacco has been in the pharma business since the '80s.

(Also frozen foods and other goods.)
posted by Chef Flamboyardee at 3:17 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


the company is attempting to rebrand itself as a pharmaceutical or pharmaceutical-adjacent company

They are a pharmaceutical company and always have been. Nicotine is a drug. We have receptors for it in our bodies. Given the recent news about Opioid Pharma, nicotine is no different. Highly, probably more addictive, but no rapid death from overdose. The executives of the tobacco companies are responsible for far more deaths than the executives of a few pharma companies pushing opioids. It’s time to treat them as the criminals they are.
posted by njohnson23 at 3:28 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


They are a pharmaceutical company and always have been. Nicotine is a drug. We have receptors for it in our bodies.

That equivalency doesn't hold across the breath of companies that produce 'drugs humans ingest' especially when the product is primarily agricultural and not synthesized. Like, coffee and tea growers and roasters/processors aren't pharmaceutical companies, neither are cannabis dispensaries....but they all sell drugs. I can't really see a world where all "companies that sell drugs" are treated like pharmaceutical companies proper. That level of regulation is probably unnecessary. And I wouldn't put PM in the current, at least colloquial basket of 'pharma company.'

Fundamentally this is a problem with the classification of what a drug is, but what I'm saying is that it is very possible that PM is looking to track more in the direction of what we consider to be a pharma company. Do I think it's a good idea? Oh not at all; but it's a realistic possibility.
posted by furnace.heart at 3:52 PM on July 25


I hope you're not implying we might see a situation where the rest of the world develops more enlightened social policy while the US continues to exalt Profit! And Freedom™ [to do stupid things] over preventing self-harm.

When it comes to smoking, the US is about as unfree as you can get. I have not been to the UK, but in the rest of western Europe smoking is not this shameful thing it is in the US. There are many places in the US where you aren’t even allowed to smoke outside on the property and must physically leave it to be able to smoke. Over here, I have yet to see anything other than airports where there aren’t smoking areas. The US has so! much! freedom! except when it comes to smoking.
posted by LizBoBiz at 3:56 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


The US has so! much! freedom! except when it comes to smoking.

This is a pretty recent development. I can remember when people smoked on planes, in restaurants, at concerts... In the 90s, I think California was about the only state that had any sort of bans on smoking, but around 2000 or so, things changed pretty rapidly. (dates may be a bit off)
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:04 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


And you know, it's funny that there's more social stigma against smokers in the US than in Europe, because over here in the states, cigarettes have a tiny little warning about the dangers of smoking, whereas in the UK at least, they have these big "SMOKING KILLS" stickers that take up like half the package.
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:06 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


Quite a few European countries ban smoking in all indoor public places, with all having some sort of restrictions. See this map to see the state of national limits.
posted by biffa at 4:23 PM on July 25 [4 favorites]


Indoors, yes it is more common than not to be disallowed. But not once I have seen anywhere I couldn’t smoke outdoors or any place where I had to leave the property to smoke.

Edited to add: there’s not even markers to not stand in front of doorways either.
posted by LizBoBiz at 4:42 PM on July 25


That equivalency doesn't hold across the breath of companies that produce 'drugs humans ingest' especially when the product is primarily agricultural and not synthesized

Alcohol isn't a drug, it's a drink!
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 5:13 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


Australia has had great success in tobacco control, including on the global stage, but like many wicked public health problems, the last stretch is going to prove the toughest.
posted by jjderooy at 5:15 PM on July 25


In 21 days I will celebrate two years w/o smoking a single cigarette after smoking Marlboros for 30+ years.

Not to be the holier than thou ex-smoker but having gotten this far It really sickens me to see vaping taking its place and the death dealers' cynical pivot positioned as some kind of socially responsible post-tobacco future-friendly CPG brands.
posted by thecincinnatikid at 5:20 PM on July 25 [15 favorites]


Cutting down on smoking is one of the few places where the US has actually, somehow, gotten out in front of most of Europe. I would not have predicted that smoking would have become so uncool (and a sort of low-class status marker) as it did in the US, in the timespan that it did. But it did, and we're probably better off for it. Cigarettes are a terrible product.

Nicotine on its own isn't quite benign, but isn't responsible for most of the health problems associated with smoking.

I'm glad for the work that anti-smoking advocates have done over the past several decades, in order to decrease the power of the tobacco lobby and bring us indoor smoking bans, etc., but I am very much not liking the ongoing rhetorical pivot from "smoking is bad because it kills you" to "nicotine is bad because it's addictive". Lots of things are addictive (or, as it used to be called, "habit-forming") and are unregulated or only very loosely regulated. It seems like a straightforward play by some of these organizations to maintain relevance despite having basically won at (or at least, being within striking range of) what they set out to do. "Mission creep" in the extreme.

Let people have their nicotine via a delivery mechanism that isn't as obviously flawed and fatal as cigarettes, and move the hell on. There are bigger public health issues than nicotine, distinct from combustible tobacco.
posted by Kadin2048 at 5:22 PM on July 25 [13 favorites]


They are a pharmaceutical company and always have been. Nicotine is a drug.

Not only is nicotine a drug, but tobacco companies manipulate how it is delivered in cigarettes so that the intensity and duration of its effects lead to greater likelihood of addiction. Sounds kind of familiar.
posted by TedW at 5:34 PM on July 25 [3 favorites]


The Greatest Advertising Opportunity Since The Invention of Cereal
posted by Caxton1476 at 6:57 PM on July 25


I quit smoking and drinking and then a couple of weeks ago, the world was destroyed. (Mine, I’m fairly sure it was not a universal event, unless we’re all ghosts.). I went on a stupid bender, broke a decade old sobriety AND started smoking like a chimney. I’ve not had a drink since that night, but I haven’t been able to quit smoking, even though I absolutely know I should. It sucks, and I’m embarrassed about it.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 9:20 PM on July 25 [3 favorites]


I cannot now locate the source, but I recall once reading a quotation to the effect that your descendants will think it incredibly shameful that you obliviously burned a gallon of gas to go buy a carton of cigarettes.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:56 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


In the 90s, I think California was about the only state that had any sort of bans on smoking,

I mentioned once before on the site that maybe five years ago I saw Die Hard on the big screen for the first time since 1988. In the opening moments, Bruce Willis’ character arrives at LAX from New York, goes to the luggage carousel, and lights up a cigarette.

Most of the audience were my age or older (50+) and would have been at least teens if not adults when the movie was first released. The reaction decades later was about as if he’d stepped behind a fern and relieved himself into the pot.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:04 PM on July 25 [8 favorites]


Yeah, I assumed that this would be motivated by the company pulling up the ladder after itself while pivoting to vaping.

As a non-smoker who finds cigarette smoke repulsive I was initially delighted by the advent of vaping. Now people could do their drugs right in front of me to their hearts' content and all I smelled was water vapour -- win-win!

This honeymoon period lasted about five minutes until someone invented flavoured vape fluid.
posted by confluency at 2:39 AM on July 26 [6 favorites]


You’d think an industry started in large part by slave holders would have modernized quicker. Sarcasmfilter.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln


Didn't you tell them that almost eight score years ago or something like that?
posted by Nanukthedog at 7:45 AM on July 26


This honeymoon period lasted about five minutes until someone invented flavoured vape fluid.

Seriously? A cloud of fruit punch is infinitely better than cigarettes. I was so amused to walk past the tiny “smokers section” at a smallish outdoor festival and have it just smell of fruit. I went by it several times before I even realized it was a smoking section. My neighbor smokes both weed and cigarettes and they are both revolting floating over the fence but cigarettes just smell like death to me. And I was a heavy smoker who had a hell of a time quitting.
posted by amanda at 8:23 AM on July 26 [1 favorite]


This honeymoon period lasted about five minutes until someone invented flavoured vape fluid.

I don't enjoy the smell of cigarettes, but at least when people used to smoke them in their cars I couldn't really smell it unless we both had the windows open and were standing right next to one another in traffic. Now I can sometimes smell the fruity vape flavours through my car's air intake system while driving, not even while stoped, even if neither I nor the person vaping in front of me have our windows down.

Seriously? A cloud of fruit punch is infinitely better than cigarettes.


If it was a cloud of actual fruit scent, maybe, but most of the flavoured vape juice is incredibly synthetic-smelling to me, and not in a pleasant way. Way more saccharine, pungent and lingering than actual fruit smell, with some ultra-sweet almost resin-y notes that I personally find particularly unpleasant. But I'm aware that I have a stronger-than-average sense of smell and that I'm sensitive to certain flavours and fragrances (and to sweeteners and additives in food) so I suspect that this is very much a ymmv scenario as far as smell preferences go.
posted by terretu at 8:49 AM on July 26 [4 favorites]


You'll know PMI really wants to distract you when they pull a "long Island Iced Tea" move and suddenly announce they are into blockchain and want to....oh....oh wait.....nevermind.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 11:48 AM on July 26


Cigarette smoke lingers a surprisingly long time/distance if you're super sensitive.. migraines and or vomiting, yay! Heavily flavored vape juice is cloying, but somehow it doesn't set off massive health problems for me +yet) so thank God for that.
posted by Jacen at 12:44 PM on July 26


For the record, former smoker here. Most definitely not judging any who smokes/has smoked/quitting/enjoys smoking, etc.

Indoors, yes it is more common than not to be disallowed. But not once I have seen anywhere I couldn’t smoke outdoors or any place where I had to leave the property to smoke.

Edited to add: there’s not even markers to not stand in front of doorways either.
posted by LizBoBiz


15 years ago, we had to evacuate to Austin, TX because of a hurricane. There were markings 50 feet out around any entrance to a public building to let smokers know where they were and were not allowed. A few years later our little island made it illegal to smoke inside any establishment. That only lasted about three months. I only mention this as there are most definitely places where even smoking outside is discouraged.

In 21 days I will celebrate two years w/o smoking a single cigarette after smoking Marlboros for 30+ years.

CONGRATS!

I think I am 3.5 years smoke free and smoked the same brand. I still (like, literally within the last week) have cravings in my dreams or sometimes when I am super stressed. It is... not easy to stop.

Not to be the holier than thou ex-smoker but having gotten this far It really sickens me to see vaping taking its place and the death dealers' cynical pivot positioned as some kind of socially responsible post-tobacco future-friendly CPG brands.
posted by thecincinnatikid at 7:20 PM on July 25 [7 favorites −] [!]


I have a co-worker who is roughly late 20s who picked up vaping to be part of the networking that happened on smoke breaks. I empathize.

I quit smoking and drinking and then a couple of weeks ago, the world was destroyed. (Mine, I’m fairly sure it was not a universal event, unless we’re all ghosts.). I went on a stupid bender, broke a decade old sobriety AND started smoking like a chimney. I’ve not had a drink since that night, but I haven’t been able to quit smoking, even though I absolutely know I should. It sucks, and I’m embarrassed about it.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 11:20 PM


If there is any way I can help, please let me know.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 3:10 PM on July 26 [3 favorites]


until someone invented flavoured vape fluid.

The really obnoxious "we get it, you vape" clouds tend to be produced by, uh, enthusiasts going out of their way to buy vape fluid with a high vegetable glycerin content, specifically to produce big clouds of vapor.

Somewhat perversely, one of the criticisms I've heard regarding Juul and other commercial systems is that they're designed to be discreet because they don't produce big clouds of vapor. Allegedly that makes them more appealing to teenagers, which may be true, but also makes them a lot more pleasant to be around.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:08 PM on July 26


I only mention this as there are most definitely places where even smoking outside is discouraged.

I may have not been clear enough, but I was talking about Western Europe, where that is a perfect example of something that does not exist.
posted by LizBoBiz at 7:03 PM on July 26 [1 favorite]


Seriously? A cloud of fruit punch is infinitely better than cigarettes.

I also find the smell to be absolutely nothing like fruit punch; more like having a toddler eat a whole bag of fake fruit-flavoured sweets, chase it with a fake fruit-flavoured soft drink, and throw up directly into my lungs.

I don't disagree that this is still infinitely better than cigarettes, but that doesn't mean it's good.
posted by confluency at 11:06 AM on July 27 [1 favorite]


Per this article:
Philip Morris recently announced it will acquire Vectura Group, a British pharmaceuticals company that produces [asthma] inhalers, and Denmark-based Fertin Pharma, a nicotine gum maker.

Oh, the irony.
posted by BlueHorse at 4:04 PM on July 27


It also lets them get out of the cigarette business while being sure their competitors don’t benefit.

I don't think it's that they care about (former) competitors benefiting so much as they want their customers to have to follow them out of the cigarette business to vaping, rather than switch to another brand of cigarette. They must figure not enough people will do that unless they destroy the whole cigarette business behind them.
posted by ctmf at 12:50 AM on July 28


me: I only mention this as there are most definitely places where even smoking outside is discouraged.

LizBoBiz : I may have not been clear enough, but I was talking about Western Europe, where that is a perfect example of something that does not exist.


Upon re-reading, you were quite clear. My reading comprehension at that moment totally failed. I apologize.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 7:24 PM on July 28


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