This is the latest in a series of actions by PMI aimed at gaining credibility and changing the public’s perception from that of being a cancer causing villain, to being part of the solution to combat smoking. Deborah Arnott, chief executive from Action on Smoking and Health (Ash), said that the tobacco company’s approach is “breathtakingly hypocritical”.
Similarly in 2018, the tobacco company had launched a controversial advertising campaign, consisting of full page ads in leading newspapers claiming they wanted to “give up cigarettes”. The ads were met with outrage from anti-tobacco activists, but the company had gone further saying that it wants to reach this goal by 2030.
Fighting illicit tobacco trade
Last Summer, the tobacco giant renewed its call for continued action against illicit tobacco trade following the release of a new report produced by KPMG, indicating the challenges and financial costs associated with illicit trade. The “Stella Report,” had indicated that the 2018 consumption of counterfeit and contraband cigarettes in the EU was estimated at 8.6 percent of total consumption, representing 43.6 billion cigarettes.
The KPMG report which was commissioned by PMI, had also revealed that the black market for cigarettes in the EU cost governments a total of 10 billion euros in lost tax revenues and was equivalent in size to the total legal cigarette sales in the U.K., Austria and Denmark combined. The illicit cigarette consumption levels seem to have remained stable from last year, however the report indicated a 30% increase in counterfeit consumption, the largest amount recorded to date.
“Beyond damaging government revenues, harming legitimate businesses—including our own—and fueling crime in local communities, the availability of cheap, unregulated cigarettes on the black market undermines efforts to reduce smoking prevalence and prevent youth from smoking,” said Alvise Giustiniani, PMI’s vice president illicit trade prevention.
“For PMI to have an impact in our drive to unsmoke the world, we must sustain our combined efforts to eliminate illicit cigarette trade, while ensuring responsible access to better alternatives for the men and women who would otherwise continue to smoke.”
Read Further: The Guardian