Philip Morris International, the tobacco company, is ramping up its efforts to direct current smokers towards its burgeoning slate of smoke-free, reduced risk products.

“We are building our future on smoke-free products,” said Gabriela Wurcel, Philip Morris International (PMI) Global Services Inc.’s VP/Corporate Affairs for Latin America and Canada. “Even though they are not harmless, they are a much better choice than continued smoking.”

The focus of PMI’s smokeless makeover is the IQOS – an offering that heats tobacco rather than burning it, as traditional cigarettes do, and thus offering a powerful alternative to cigarettes.

Although the product has yet to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), its global appeal has been grounded in an unexpected brand purpose.

“It’s our goal to replace cigarettes with the smoke-free products we’re developing and selling,” copy on the IQOS website reads. “These products are designed to create a flavorful nicotine-containing vapor, without burning and smoke.

“Because the tobacco is heated and not burned, the levels of harmful chemicals are significantly reduced compared to cigarette smoke.”

Speaking at the Festival of Media Latin America (FOMLA), Wurcel explained that the owner of leading cigarette brands like Marlboro, L&M and Chesterfield now has aspirations that look different from its past. (For more, read WARC’s report: Philip Morris International prepares for a smoke-free future).

“We have decided to take this bold step and to change a very successful business model for another one that is based on new products that we literally just invented ourselves,” she said.

“We have this commitment to achieve a smoke-free future … It is the right thing to do for the smokers, their families and friends, and for those of us who don’t smoke but really care about those do.

“It’s also the right thing to do for our company, for our shareholders, and also for our beliefs, because we feel we are for the first time doing something meaningful.”

And this meaningful action undoubtedly involves a complete transformation in its priorities. “This all means that we want to stop selling cigarettes as soon as possible,” Wurcel continued.

“Coming from us, that may sound crazy, but it’s actually not. We want to end cigarette consumption as soon as possible because it is the right thing to do ... We all know that cigarette smoking is bad for health.”

Sourced from WARC