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Tobacco giant Philip Morris to stop selling cigarettes in UK within a decade

Tobacco giant Philip Morris International will stop selling cigarettes in Britain within the next 10 years. Chief executive Jacek Olczak told The Mail on Sunday that the plans were part of the company’s drive to phase out traditional cigarette smoking in the UK.

People who want to continue smoking will be encouraged to switch to modern alternatives such as e-cigarettes or heated tobacco devices, which are considered less harmful.

“I want to allow this company to leave smoking behind,” Olczak said. “I think in the UK, 10 years from now maximum, you can completely solve the problem of smoking.” Asked if that meant Philip Morris would stop selling traditional cigarettes in the UK within that time, he replied: “Absolutely.”

The move will bring down the curtain on the iconic Marlboro brand after more than a century on British shop shelves, wrote Emma Dunkley in The Mail on Sunday article published on 25 July 2021.

Olczak said the Marlboro brand will vanish from Britain. “It will disappear. The first choice for consumers is they should quit smoking. “But if they don't, the second best choice is to let them switch to the better alternatives.”

The UK government has laid out a blueprint for Britain to go “smoke-free” by 2030, which includes a plan to reduce the prevalence of cigarette smoking among different age groups, The Mail on Sunday reported.


Jaclyn Diaz writes for NPR, that the development is part of Philip Morris International's reinvention as it abandons traditional tobacco products.

Jacek Olczak became the company's CEO in May and plans to lead Philip Morris’ ‘smoke-free’ transformation. He said the company's new mission is to find and provide "less harmful alternatives to cigarettes" to the millions of people who would otherwise still smoke.

In May, he said: “Our ambition is that more than half of our net revenues will come from smoke-free products in 2025.”

The company's efforts are part of a much wider societal change in attitudes toward smoking, especially in the United Kingdom. The government recently announced its goal to make England smoke-free by 2030. The UK will be considered ‘smoke-free’ when the nation's smoking rates are less than 5%.

The pushback against cigarettes over the past several years is tied to the severe health problems caused by smoking highly addictive tobacco around the world.

The World Health Organization says that “the tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced”. It kills more than eight million people a year – seven million of those deaths are directly linked to tobacco use, according to the WHO. More than one million other deaths are from non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.

Philip Morris International is focusing more on developing tobacco heating systems, such as electronic cigarettes that still “create a nicotine-containing tobacco vapor”, the company said. The cigarette maker says on its website that “smoke-free products” are not “risk free” but “are a far better choice than cigarette smoking”.


Mail on Sunday story – Tobacco giant Philip Morris will stop selling cigarettes in Britain within the next ten years marking the end of the Marlboro brand on UK shelves after a century – as it looks to push less harmful 'modern alternatives' (Open access)


NPR story – Marlboro Maker CEO Says The Company Plans To Stop Selling Smokes In The UK (Open access)


See also from the MedicalBrief archives


New Zealand, United States ponder cutting nicotine levels in cigarettes


Global confusion about nicotine hampers efforts to stop smoking


JAMA editorial: Research strengthens case for e-cigarettes for smoking cessation


Tobacco smoking control – Much research, little action



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