Marlboro maker Philip Morris could stop selling cigarettes in UK

Tobacco giant Philip Morris has said it could stop selling cigarettes in the UK in 10 years’ time as it focuses on alternatives, such as heated tobacco.

The move would mean that the firm’s flagship Marlboro brand would disappear from British shops.

The firm also indicated it would welcome a government ban on cigarettes.

Health charity Ash said it was hard to take such claims seriously from the firm responsible for selling over a tenth of cigarettes globally.

“Philip Morris can see a world without cigarettes – the sooner it happens, the better it is for everyone,” the company said in a statement.

Philip Morris eventually expects the government to ban smoking altogether and said that “strong regulation” was needed to “help solve the problem of cigarette smoking once and for all”.

The government has already pledged to end smoking in England by 2030 as part of a range of measures to tackle the causes of preventable ill health.

In comments first reported in the Mail on Sunday, Philip Morris International’s (PMI) chief executive, Jacek Olczak, told the newspaper: “I want to allow this company to leave smoking behind.”

He added: “I think in the UK, 10 years from now maximum, you can completely solve the problem of smoking.”

‘Fine words not the solution’

However, Deborah Arnott, chief executive of campaigning health charity Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) said: “Philip Morris has claimed that it wants to see the end of smoking for years now, but how can such claims be taken seriously from a company which sells more than one in 10 cigarettes smoked worldwide?,”

She stressed that ending smoking by 2030 must be a priority for the government.

“Smoking is likely to have killed more people than Covid-19 last year in the UK,” she added.

​”Fine words from Philip Morris are not the solution – funding is needed for government-backed behaviour change campaigns to discourage smoking, and support to help smokers quit.”

Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, also called for more efforts to persuade people not to smoke, but said the tobacco industry should be made to contribute to the cost.

She added: “We’ve heard these empty promises from the tobacco industry before and we’re concerned this move is part of an attempt by Big Tobacco to position itself as part of the solution to a smoke-free UK, all the while continuing to promote and sell lethal cigarettes here and globally.

“We know from our work supporting low and middle-income countries in the fight against tobacco industry interference, that Philip Morris’s actions globally don’t match up with their smoke-free world rhetoric.”


Philip Morris has made similar claims previously.

In 2016, Mr Olczak’s predecessor as chief executive, André Calantzopoulos, told the BBC that the firm could stop making conventional cigarettes.

And in 2018, in another BBC interview, Mr Calantzopoulos said Philip Morris wanted to phase out cigarettes as soon as possible.

Following Mr Olczak’s latest remarks, Dr Moira Gilchrist, the firm’s vice-president of strategic and scientific communications, told the BBC: “Quitting is the best option, but for those who don’t, science and technology has allowed companies like ours to create better alternatives to continued smoking.

She added that ​encouraging people to switch to alternatives, together with strong regulation, would help solve the problem of cigarette smoking “once and for all”.

“With the right measures in place, PMI can stop selling cigarettes in the UK in 10 years’ time.”

Smokers’ lobby group Forest reacted by saying that banning cigarettes was “a fool’s errand” that would not stop people smoking.

“It will simply drive the product into the hands of criminal gangs who will happily sell illicit and counterfeit cigarettes to anyone who wants them, including children,” said the group’s director, Simon Clark.

UK Health Agency Reaffirms the Power of Vaping to Help Smokers Quit

On June 25, the United Kingdom’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published new draft guidelines encouraging health care professionals to disseminate clear and up-to-date information for smokers who want to use vapes to quit cigarettes.

Developed with the help of Public Health England (PHE), the UK’s leading health agency, an expert committee advises that nicotine-containing e-cigarettes are “more likely to result in people successfully stopping smoking” when combined with behavioral support; notes that vaping is “similarly effective” to short- and long-acting nicotine replacement therapy (NRT); acknowledges that e-cigarettes are “significantly less harmful than smoking” although long-term health effects remain unknown; and calls for the funding of further research. The guidance consolidates and updates eight previous guidelines on smoking and is out for consultation until early August.

“This should have a considerable impact on the level of confidence among health care professionals, some of whom have until now been uncertain or reluctant to support patients to switch from extremely harmful smoking to something significantly safer,” Louise Ross, the former manager of the Stop Smoking Service in Leicester and the current business development manager for a smoke-free app, told Filter.

Over the past few years, the UK has transformed into a model for tobacco harm reduction (THR), and activists have been hopeful that public health officials there will continue down that path, especially in a post-Brexit regulatory landscape. In one promising development there among many, a collection of UK universities recently launched a trial in which they’re providing free e-cigarettes to hundreds of homeless people, a population with a high smoking rate; the research will judge how effective vaping products are at assisting them in quitting cigarettes.

The NICE recommendations are not necessarily a surprise. Indeed, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2019 found that vapes were not as effective for quitting as NRT, but much more effective—somewhat disappointingly for some activists, NICE does not go as far to declare vapes superior cessation tools. Still, the guidelines represent a victory for THR advocates. They can now be cited to health organizations and agencies that oppose vaping at all costs in favor of an abstinence-only approach to nicotine.

“We know that vaping is a really popular and effective way to stop smoking.”

Advocates are not particularly optimistic, however, that the guidance will stretch beyond the UK’s borders. As recent as May, ahead of World No Tobacco Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) reasserted its anti-vaping stance, stating that the tobacco industry has “promoted e-cigarettes as cessation aids under the guises of contributing to global tobacco control” and that “switching from conventional tobacco products to e-cigarettes is not quitting.”

“The new draft guidelines recommending that UK physicians should promote safer nicotine vapes (‘e-cigarettes’) for adult smokers should be a wake up call for the World Health Organization,” Dr. Charles Gardner, the executive director of INNCO, a global nonprofit that supports the rights and well-being of adults who use safer nicotine, told Filter. “The WHO continues to believe that reducing harm is an evil Big Tobacco plot. NICE and PHE have no industry influence. They look at evidence. INNCO compliments them on their courageous stance against current tobacco control dogma.”

The UK strategy is a stark contrast to that in the United States—and in many other countries that follow the US example. Misinformation about the benefits of e-cigarettes for adult smokers still plagues much of the public conversation in the US. Many former smokers who switched to vaping have been persuaded that a string of “vaping-related” lung injuries reported in 2019 were related to vaping nicotine—not illicit, adulterated THC cartridges as was in fact the case. Many seem to be returning to cigarettes.

“This should all be part of a consistent message to people who smoke, encouraging them to give vaping a try,” Ross said of the NICE recommendations. “We know that vaping is a really popular and effective way to stop smoking.”

“Now,” she continued, “we have evidence from yet another credible source that we should all put our efforts into getting more people to try it.”


Photograph by harry_nl via Flickr/Creative Commons 2.0

Both INNCO and The Influence Foundation, which operates Filter, have received grants from the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World. More information about The Influence Foundation’s funding is available hereFilter’s Editorial Independence Policy applies. 

Harrogate vape shop sees record numbers looking to quit smoking

Upon re-opening, the firm’s Harrogate store on Beulah Street saw record sales in its ‘New to Vaping’ kits, representing its largest ever uptake.

The forced closure of vaping stores during lockdown has meant that smokers have not been able to access advice and products to help them stop smoking.

Now, VPZ is seeing record demand from smokers hoping to make the switch.

Doug Mutter, director of VPZ said that the reduction in NHS stop-smoking services, through Covid-19 and local authority cuts, had been devastating. Recent data from VPZ has shown that smoking rates and the amount of cigarettes smokers are consuming have both increased.

He added: “Post-lockdown we had expected to see a rise in smokers coming forward looking for help and guidance but the scale and demand here in Harrogate and across our store network has been huge.

“We recognise now more than ever the need for an enhanced level of service and support that our customers require following lockdown.”

Free e-cigarettes for smokers in A&E trial

Smokers attending emergency departments will be given free e-cigarettes and taught how to use them, in a trial designed to help people quit.

Patients will be offered a device, enough e-liquid supplies for a week, and referral to local smoking-cessation services, alongside medical advice.

Hospitals in Norfolk, London, Leicester and Edinburgh will participate.

E-cigarettes are not available on the NHS, other than in trials, but health experts say they can help people quit.

Growing evidence supports their use in smoking cessation, Public Health England says, with an estimated 50,000 smokers quitting a year in England with the help of vaping.

And NHS experts consider them less harmful than traditional traditional cigarettes.

However, this does not mean they are completely risk-free.

E-cigs or vapes let users inhale nicotine in a vapour rather than smoke and do not burn tobacco or produce tar or carbon monoxide, unlike usual cigarettes.

During the trial, due to start in autumn, some smokers in emergency departments – whatever they are being treated for – will be given vaping starter packs and referred for continuing support.

But they will have to fund any additional vaping materials themselves.

Others will receive only leaflets with details of local smoking-cessation services.

And both groups will be asked if they still smoke one, three and six months later.

‘Attractive option’

Prof Caitlin Notley, who is helping lead the study, at the University of East Anglia, said recruiting people in emergency departments could help introduce the idea of attempting to quit while using e-cigarettes to a group of people who had never considered it.

“Electronic cigarettes mimic the experience of cigarette smoking because they are hand-held and generate a smoke-like vapour when used,” she said

“They can be an attractive option for helping people switch from smoking, even if they have tried and failed in the past.”

Prof John Newton, at Public Health England, said smoking killed almost 75,000 people in England in 2019.

“The best thing that a smoker can do is to stop smoking completely and the evidence shows that vaping is one of the most effective quit aids available, helping around 50,000 smokers quit a year,” he said.

“Thousands more could have quit except for unfounded safety fears about e-cigarettes.”

E-cigarettes may become one of the most effective smoking cessation tools

On March 10, a new study published by King’s College London, UK emphasized that daily use of e-cigarettes has “significant results” in helping to quit smoking. At the same time, the study compared other smoking cessation methods including nicotine replacement therapy or medication. This research provides support for the effectiveness of e-cigarettes to help quit smoking.

Although the number of smokers in the UK has been declining in recent years, smoking is still the leading cause of premature death and disease-nearly 75,000 people in the UK lost their lives in 2019. In a study funded by Cancer Research UK (Cancer Research UK), researchers at King’s College London analyzed online survey data from more than 1,155 people, including smokers and former smokers who quit smoking less than a year before completing the survey , And e-cigarette users. A total of five rounds of data were collected from 2012 to 2017. The researchers analyzed the smokers who had smoked for at least one month during the follow-up period and those who had quit smoking for at least one month between the first survey and the follow-up survey to explore the effectiveness of e-cigarettes in helping to quit smoking.

This study found that smokers who use e-cigarettes every day are more than five times more likely to quit smoking than those who do not use smoking cessation aids at all. Daily use of e-cigarettes is also more effective than other evidence-based smoking cessation methods-including nicotine replacement therapy, medications (such as bupropion or varenicline or any combination of these auxiliary drugs). Compared with not using auxiliary tools at all, these methods have nothing to do with smoking cessation during the follow-up period.

Research results show that users who use e-cigarettes every day are more likely to quit smoking than those who do not use smoking cessation aids at all, indicating that e-cigarettes are a more effective way to quit smoking than nicotine replacement therapy and prescription drug treatment. Dr. Leonie Brose, Research Associate Professor of the National Addiction Centre at King’s College London, said: “Although the World Health Organization (WHO) is cautious about e-cigarettes, our research shows that e-cigarettes are still one of the most effective smoking cessation tools currently available. “

UK Vapers May Face New Threats, as Public Health England is to be Dissolved

As the PHE was reportedly unable to deal with the Covid-19 crises effectively due to under-funding, UK ministers have decided to merge it with the NHS and distribute its responsibilities amongst other entities. According to The Sunday Telegraph, Health Secretary Matt Hancock is to announce that a new Institute for Health Protection will become “effective” as of this month.

The PHE has been instrumental in the promotion of tobacco harm reduction via the use of e-cigarettes across the UK.

The chief executive of NHS Providers representing NHS trusts Chris Hopson, said that “years of under-funding” for PHE and more generally public health, have left the country unprepared to deal with a pandemic.

He added that unlike other health bodies such as NHS England, the PHE is an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care. “This gives ministers direct control of its activities,” he explained. “So whilst it might be convenient to seek to blame PHE’s leadership team, it is important that the Government reflect on its responsibilities as well.”

With regards to smoking cessation, the PHE has been instrumental in the promotion of tobacco harm reduction via the use of e-cigarettes. Given that it is currently unknown who will be taking over this responsibility, the way that vaping will be promoted from now on is yet to be seen.

The PHE’s 6th independent e-cigarette report

Last April, the PHE was commended by tobacco harm reduction experts for its latest review calling for an end on publishing misinformation about vaping. “Vaping in England: 2020 Evidence Update Summary” was the PHE’s sixth (and probably last) independent e-cigarette report, commissioned by researchers at King’s College London.

It highlighted that despite the alarmist media headlines and unfounded fears about vaping, more former smokers have made the switch from cigarettes to vaping products and that youth uptake remains relatively low. The report added that “false fears” about vaping are preventing many smokers from quitting by switching to vaping – something that the PHE itself has long endorsed.

On the side of tobacco harm reduction

Moreover, when last year’s reports from the US had erroneously started linking EVALI with nicotine vaping, the PHE had reassured e-cig users in the UK that the agency’s stance on vaping remained unchanged.

“Our advice on e-cigarettes remains unchanged – vaping isn’t completely risk free but is far less harmful than smoking tobacco. There is no situation where it would be better for your health to continue smoking rather than switching completely to vaping,” said the PHE on Twitter art the time.

UK: PHE to Investigate ‘New Dual’ Range Replacing Menthol Tobacco

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British Columbia’s Vaping Rules May Breach Charter Rights

There are potential constitutional issues arising from the recently announced amendments to British Columbia’s (B.C.) vaping regulations, states the Canadian Constitution Foundation.

The new vaping legislation, which amends B.C.’s Public Health Act and the Tobacco and Vapour Products Control Regulation, will impose a limit on nicotine concentrations to 20mg/ml for products sold in retail locations, will call for plain packaging for vaping substances, will ban the sale of flavoured vapour products except in age-restricted specialty stores, will restrict advertising in spaces where youth may be present and will require vaping substances for sale to be packaged with a skull-and-crossbones health hazard symbol and a health warning.

The CCF said that the new vaping regulations may violate s. 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which safeguards the right to life, liberty and the security of the person, because the nicotine ceiling and flavour restriction may potentially make vaping products a less attractive or effective quit-aid for smokers, according to Canadian Lawyer magazine.

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The CCF also said that the new legislation may breach s. 2(b) of the Charter, which protects the right to freedom of expression, in light of the imposition of plain packaging, with no images or text allowed beyond the brand name and regulatory text. The CCF argued that the new regulations extensively limit the packaging and display of vaping products, in violation of the requirement for restrictions on free speech to be no greater than is reasonably necessary.

Moreover, the requirement of plain packaging may prevent smokers who may benefit from a switch to vaping products from being exposed to such products or lessen the opportunity for exposure, said the CCF.

“Rules that confine the sale of vaping products to shops that sell them exclusively will result in fewer smokers being exposed to them in convenience stores, where they likely already shop for their cigarettes,” the CCF further said.

The CCF cited a February 2020 report written by Leonid Sirota, senior lecturer at the Auckland University of Technology’s Law School, wherein Sirota emphasized the rights of current smokers who are seeking to quit, according to the article.

“The conflation of vaping and smoking within the law runs contrary to the best available evidence and risks conveying to smokers the impression that vaping is not meaningfully different and better than smoking, discouraging them from trying what may be the best harm-reduction method available,” said Sirota.

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British American Tobacco Ahead in US Vaping Battle

BRITISH American Tobacco (BAT) plans to test its new tobacco heating device in the United States later this year, allowing it to pull ahead of its rivals Philip Morris in the world’s biggest vaping market.
The London-based company has confirmed it has received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to begin selling its Neocore heated-tobacco device, formerly known as Eclipse.
It comes as shares in the second biggest global tobacco company have risen 5 per cent after reporting a better-than-expected first-half profit since its $49.4bn acquisition of cigarette giant Reynolds American in 2017.
BAT inherited Neocore from Reynolds when it acquired the business last year, and since it came with already received FDA approval, it was able to fast-track its application this time around.

Neocore is a carbon-tipped product that looks like a cigarette and is lit with a match, yet doesn’t burn the tobacco. Its rival, Marlboro-makers Philip Morris, is currently leading the tobacco heating market with its IQOS e-cigarette outside the US with nearly 4 million people in 30 markets using it, but it is still waiting on FDA approval.

The smokeless device, which stands for “I quit original smoking”, has cost $3billion to develop by PMI and is a battery-operated device which works by having a “heat stick” inserted inside containing a tobacco plug. The heat produces a vapor rather than smoke.

As well as its iQOS device, PMI has developed its own carbon-tipped product called Teeps, which hasn’t officially launched in any markets besides a consumer trial in the Dominican Republic.
It is now expected BAT’s new product will be on the market in America before PMI’s iQOS.
Chief Executive of British American Tobacco, Nicandro Durante said: “We are delighted to be the first tobacco company to be able to launch a THP (tobacco heating product) proposition in the United States.”
He told Reuters news agency the plan was to test the product in a small U.S. area by the end of 2018. The full market launch would probably then occur in 2019, he said.

The test, whose location has yet to be decided, will help the company understand how it should be priced and sold. “It remains to be seen how popular heated tobacco will be in the U.S. but being first … positions (BAT) well,” Jefferies analyst Owen Bennett said.
Around the world, Philip Morris has also made a marketing application to the FDA for iQOS, one that if passed would allow the company to sell it with a claim of reduced risk.

BAT is not seeking a reduced risk application. BAT said another application for its Glo device, filed in February, has passed into scientific review. In addition, the company said it expects a scientific hearing regarding its Camel Snus to take place in September. The maker of Lucky Strike and Dunhill cigarettes said it remains confident of exceeding £1billion of reported revenue from next generation products this year, as new launches should bolster growth in the back half of the year following a slowdown in some key markets such as Japan and Korea.

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British Government Cracks Down on Eliquid Infringers.

The British Government has started a crackdown on eliquid that is packaged like well known food products, yanking products from shelves including some that are designed to look like Krispy Kreme donuts.

Trading Standards – the UK Government Agency that enforces the law on consumer products – removed six different brands of eliquid including Murica, which is presented in a box identical to a McDonalds apple pie; and Krispy Vape, which is presented in a Krispy Kreme style box. Other brands removed from sale included Milky Cones, Milkshake Man and Drippy Lee Pounding Clouds.

A spokesman for the local Council, which oversees trading standards, said:

“I’m pleased that our Trading Standards team have investigated and removed these potentially harmful products from sale in Knowsley.

The safety of customers is always our highest priority and I’m concerned that young children could be attracted to these products because of their appearance. If they play with these products or put them in their mouths, children could come to serious harm.

“Our Trading Standards officers are currently investigating the supply chain for these e-liquids.”

The action was taken under a UK law that says non-food products cannot resemble food. It was also taken because the liquid did not contain adequate labelling that warns of the harms of certain chemicals.

Hopefully this is just the first of a series of actions designed to root out those who are in the market for a quick buck and those who are in it for the long term.

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