The brand has never gotten the credit it deserves for branching into smoking cessation products, when no other company was.
Given the increase in health consciousness and subsequent dwindling smoking rates, tobacco companies across the globe, are striving to switch their businesses from running on cigarette sales, to ones based on the sales of safer alternatives. Recently Philip Morris International Inc’s (PMI) incoming CEO, Jacek Olczak, reiterated the company’s goal of becoming smoke free within the decade.

Meanwhile, Swedish Match is the first tobacco company to achieve this goal, and actually exit the combustible tobacco market. Discussing the move, renowned tobacco control pioneer David Sweanor, an adjunct law professor in Canada, said that while the brand has never gotten the credit it deserves for branching into smoking cessation products, when no other company was.

Moreover, he added, the move will probably still not silence critics. “I don’t think the move out of combustibles will end the attacks on Swedish Match because the attacks have long been moralistic, irrational, and decidedly counterproductive,” said Sweanor as quoted by Snusforumet.

Investments in the cannabis industry

Other members of the tobacco industry have also been investing in cannabis products. As far back as 2016, Philip Morris International had invested $20 million in Israel-based Syqe Medical, which developed a medical cannabis inhaler. In 2018, tobacco giant Altria had announced that it would be discontinuing its vape devices and Verve nicotine gum, in order to instead invest 1.8 billion in Canadian cannabis company Cronos Group Inc., which is the fourth most valuable publicly listed marijuana company, with a total valuation of about $1.9 billion.

Similarly, in 2018, Britain’s Imperial Brands had invested through its venture arm in Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies, a cannabis-focus biotechnology firm, and in 2019 it announced an investment of C$123 million for a 19.9% stake of Canada-based Auxly Cannabis.

An article on BMJ highlighted that Big Tobacco has been eyeing opportunities to invest in the cannabis market as far back as the 1970s. “While I am opposed to its [marijuana] use, I recognize that it may be legalized in the near future…we should be in a position to examine: 1. A potential competition, 2. A possible product, 3. At this time, cooperate with the government,” then-Philip Morris President George Weissman in an internal memo.

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