Innovation and investment central to a smoke-free future for Europe

At a recent event in Paris, Philip Morris International presented its Integrated Report 2023, showcasing advancements in sustainability metrics, highlighting strides in environmental stewardship and societal well-being
Philip Morris International

By Philip Morris International

23 May 2024

Since 2008, Philip Morris International has invested more than $12.5 billion towards the development, scientific validation, and commercialisation of innovative smoke-free products. The company, recognised as one of the top 100 in Europe for patent generation, recently announced its ambition for more than two-thirds of total net revenues to come from smoke-free products by 2030. At an event in Paris, PMI Vice President International Communications Tommaso di Giovanni and Global Director Sustainability Miguel Coleta presented the 2023 Integrated Report, explaining how the company scored their responsibility metrics and standards on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG).


Production shifts driving new investments


Since 2008, PMI has undertaken a notable shift in production. As of the end of 2023, 40% of production is now comprised of smoke-free alternatives, compared to the 63.6% share of combustible tobacco products. This transition represents a significant pivot in PMI's business model, emphasising a move away from conventional tobacco products whilst concurrently elevating its scientific evaluation standards to a global level. Through research and development facilities like 'The Cube' in Switzerland, the company has augmented its proficiency in pre-clinical systems toxicology, clinical and behavioural research, and post-market studies. Additionally, avenues to reduce post-consumer waste and littering are being explored, including campaigns to raise awareness and encourage responsible disposal practices.

“We are aspiring for less than one-third of our total net revenues to derive from combustible tobacco product sales by 2030” – Miguel Coleta, PMI Global Director Sustainability

During the presentation, Coleta presented the example of a creative anti-littering campaign, #ChangeThePicture, which is part of the Our World Is Not An Ashtray programme in partnership with Litterati, successfully run in Bulgaria also in collaboration with the National Academy of Theatre and Film Arts “Krastyo Sarafov.” After two years of collaboration, the team conducted research and activation events, including one in Sofia in May 2023. Choosing two similar parks in the city, the team displayed their informative campaign posters and handed out portable ashtrays in one, whilst the other park was left as a control. Across the three day experiment, the team found that cigarette butts were the most discarded items in both parks. At the end of the research, the test park showed a 56% decrease in cigarette butt littering density across the campaign, whilst the control park showed a total increase of 10%. In addition to this initiative, the company is also collaborating with several institutions like the Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests (ICNF) in Portugal and the non-profit initiative wirBERLIN in Germany, where, by supporting the KIPPEN-BUDDIES project, they are committed to the cleanliness of Berlin’s waterways, riverbanks, parks, and neighbourhoods.


During the presentation, di Giovanni also emphasised the company’s recent investments. Central to their transformation is creation, in Bologna, of the most important production state-of-the-art factory for smoke-free tobacco products, realized with a €1.2 billion investment and now representing the core of an integrated value chain which counts more than 40,000 jobs in Italy. Furthermore, PMI's commitment to Bologna extends to a separate investment realized as of 2021 for the Centre for Industrial Excellence. This represented an investment of €600 million aimed at fostering innovation and sustainability within PMI's operations. This initiative has not only strengthened their industrial capabilities but has also spurred job creation, generating approximately 8,000 employment opportunities within the supply chain.


Environmental efforts beginning to take shape


According to the Global Director of Sustainability Miguel Coleta, the company has made a conscious effort to reduce its environmental footprint. "PMI emissions decreased in absolute terms by 13% across our value chain in 2023 versus 2019. Although our emissions have dropped from our baseline year, our Scope 3 emissions have not fallen as much as planned." Despite this, they are one of the first companies to have scope 3 Forest, Land and Agriculture (FLAG) and Industrial emission targets validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and have been awarded, for the tenth consecutive year, an A score by the by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) "in recognition of their efforts to combat climate change and provide environmental transparency."

“Openness of a country to innovation and awareness of the benefits of smoke free products can make a huge difference. When people are empowered with the right information, they make the right choices.” – Tommaso di Giovanni, PMI Vice-President International Communications

The WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) defines tobacco control as a set of necessary strategies targeting both the supply and demand sides, as well as harm reduction approaches, all aimed at enhancing public health by either eliminating or minimising tobacco product consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke. Sweden serves as a prime example of the success of harm reduction strategies. Despite having a history where 49% of men were regular smokers, Sweden has significantly reduced smoking rates in large part by allowing smokers to switch to products with significantly lower risks, mainly through as snus and nicotine pouches (traditional smokeless tobacco) and other smoke-free alternatives such as vapes and tobacco heated that are also present in the country. Thanks to better-regulated alternative oral tobacco products available, only 5.6% of people in Sweden smoke, boasting the lowest smoking rate in the European Union, accompanied by markedly lower rates of lung and oral cancer compared to the rest of the world. Sweden is not the only country that managed to achieve an unprecedented drop in the number of smokers by adopting diverse measures – in addition to existing tobacco control measures - such as enacting a framework that encourages innovation and differentiation, lowering excise rates on reduced harm products and providing adult smokers with a wide variety of alternative products on the market. Over the years, similar approaches coincided with a cigarette consumption decrease by 48% in New Zealand, 36% in Norway, 33% in Japan and 29% in the United Kingdom. It is worth noting that neither Sweden nor any of these countries has been praised by the WHO in their fight to address the issue of smoking.



New Povaddo report suggests - Europeans recognise the importance of smoke-free alternatives in the face of current tobacco control limitations -


The results of a new survey from Povaddo focusing on European adults’ perceptions about tobacco regulation, taxation, and innovation were presented at an event hosted by independent survey agency Povaddo,  in Paris on 15th April. The results of the report, that was commissioned by Phillip Morris International, found there to be widespread acceptance amongst Europeans that smoke-free alternatives should be considered as reasonable substitutes for cigarettes. A total of 14,119 interviews were conducted by Povaddo amongst legal-age, general population adults (approximately 1000 per country) from December 2023 to the end of January 2024.

“There is a disconnect between policymakers and the citizens they govern and represent when it comes to tobacco policy” - William Stewart, Povaddo Present

69% of respondents agreed that they should be provided with accurate, scientifically substantiated information indicating that smoke-free alternatives to cigarettes are less risky than continued smoking, even if these alternatives are not entirely risk-free. Additionally, 67% of respondents agreed that governments should encourage adult smokers who do not quit altogether to switch to innovative smoke-free alternatives, highlighting the importance of PMI’s manufacturing shift. Discussing these results, Povaddo’s President, William Stewart stated that “these survey results suggest there is a disconnect between policymakers and the citizens they govern and represent when it comes to tobacco policy”, a statement that is reflected in another of the survey’s results, one that has to do with how a majority of adult smokers feel discriminated and left out of decisions that impact them


Concerns around illicit tobacco trade were also uncovered in Povaddo’s report. 60% of respondents believed that their country had a “problem” with illicit tobacco and nicotine-containing products, whilst just 6% were able to identify that in 2022 between 10 to 15 billion of tax revenue was lost because of illicit trade in Europe. Despite efforts from the industry to reduce smoking rates, 65% found that illicit trade in tobacco and nicotine-containing products undermined these smoke-reduction efforts. Speaking about these results, Stewart added that “The bottom line is the illicit trade of tobacco and nicotine-products is viewed as a problem across Europe, and people are attuned to the negative consequences that stem from this problem”. It is clear that work remains to be done to bring policymakers inline with citizen expectations in the area of harm reduction and illicit trade. These efforts combined signify the amount of work that remains to be done to ensure a secure and smoke-free Europe.


Click here to read the full Povvado report.



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