TOBACCO giant Philip Morris is making its move into vaping by promoting its “smoke free” products at Formula One, it has been revealed.
The tobacco company, which has spent £2.5bn on developing smoke-free alternatives to its famous cigarette brands, has partnered up with F1 team Ferrari to help drive its new range.
Philip Morris has been sponsoring Ferrari since the mid-80s, but the Marlboro cigarette brand has not featured on the racing cars since 2007 due to strict advertising laws.
But along with extending its sponsorship deal with Scuderia Ferrari until 2021, the company will now be using the partnership to focus on promoting its less harmful alternative to cigarettes – which could controversially see its branding back on the racetrack.
Philip Morris International’s chief executive officer, André Calantzopoulos said: “We want to give the world’s 1.1 billion men and women who smoke the opportunity to make better and informed choices.
“We are committed to use all available resources, including our motorsports related activities, to accelerate momentum around this revolutionary change for the benefit of people who smoke, public health and society at large. We deeply appreciate Scuderia Ferrari’s support in this cause.”
Making a direct reference to how the brand would feature on the Ferraris, he added: “Details about the messages, especially those on the cars of Scuderia Ferrari, should be announced in the coming months.”
Observers of the controversial move have expressed interest in how the global firm is going to work around current EU advertising rules.
Part of Philip Morris’s $3 billion investment into new-generation smoking platforms includes its iQOS device, which heats tobacco instead of burning it, which avoids subjecting smokers to the same levels of carcinogens and toxic substances found in regular cigarettes.
But while EU regulation bans the advertising of all e-cigarettes across all media including the sponsorship of events such as the Olympics and Formula One, “heat not burn” technologies such as the iQOS isn’t included – although the Heet sticks that fit inside is.
While critics watch the controversial advertising drive with interest, the tobacco giant’s move comes just a month after its pledge to stop selling cigarettes in the UK within a decade.
The global firm, whose major brands including Marlboro and Chesterfield are sold in 180 countries worldwide, launched a headline-grabbing advertising campaign in January urging smokers to switch from cigarettes to safer alternatives, such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products.
In adverts placed in a series of UK national newspapers, PMI promised to “give up cigarettes” as “our New Year’s resolution”.
The full-page advert read: “Phillip Morris is known for cigarettes…
Every year many smokers give up. Now it’s our turn.”