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Up in smokes: The call to ban cigarettes reignites dangers of vaping

The Chief Executive at Philip Morris International, which manufactures Marlboro cigarettes abroad, has announced that the firm will halt sales of the product in the UK. Is tobacco on its way out?

Phillip Morris International (PMI) separated from Philip Morris USA in 2008 Conventional smokes raised blood pressure for only 15 minutes, but e-cigarettes raised it for 45 minutes BAT will advertise vaping and other “non-combustible” products on a billion cigarette packets it produces

The Chief Executive at Philip Morris International, which manufactures Marlboro cigarettes abroad, has announced that the firm will halt sales of the product in the UK before the decade is out, according to an initial Sunday report from The Mail.

Jacek Olczak, CEO, also encouraged the cancer-causing products to be banned worldwide and urged the UK government to make cigarettes illegal before the decade ends, comparing them to fossil fuel-powered vehicles, which it will ban come 2030, according to a report from The Telegraph.

Phillip Morris International (PMI) separated from Philip Morris USA in 2008, and then revealed plans to evolve into a smoke-free firm.

Cigarettes kill more than eight million people throughout the world annually, according to the World Health Organization.  

A 2018 study found that popular e-cigs will often cause the same or higher levels of cardiovascular elevation post-smoking as conventional cigarettes.

Specifically, conventional smokes raised blood pressure for only 15 minutes, whereas e-cigarettes left users with high blood pressure for 45 minutes. Later in 2020, another report found that the heat from vaporizers and e-cigarettes can cause lung injury, potentially increasing the likelihood of contracting COVID-19.  

A spokesperson for PMI told Insider that its “smoke-free products” accounted for nearly 30% of its sales in the second quarter of the year. By 2025, it plans to bring this up to 50% of sales.

These products do not burn tobacco. They either don’t use tobacco at all or heat tobacco to create nicotine vapor.

PMI is pushing the IQOS, a cigarette device that heats tobacco to deliver nicotine without the smoke and tar that cause diseases including cancer.

While the IQOS device may emit fewer toxic chemicals compared to cigarettes, the Atlantic reported in 2019 that many health experts are skeptical that “heat-not-burn” products are actually safer than traditional smoking.  

In 2017, Reuters reported on irregularities in PMI-backed research the company cited while lobbying health authorities to approve IQOS.  

In 2019, PMI went so far as to launch a life insurance company called Reviti, which would offer discounts to smokers who switched to cigarette alternatives like IQOS.

A 2018 review in the Tobacco Control journal found that 20 out of 31 studies on heat-not-burn devices were, at that point, funded by tobacco companies including PMI.

British American Tobacco (BAT) has meanwhile refused to back calls for cigarettes to be banned, saying that outlawing smoking would drive the industry underground.

BAT will instead advertise vaping and other “non-combustible” products on a billion packets to encourage smokers to quit.

Jack Bowles, BAT chief executive, said an outright ban would not work, citing the example of South Africa, which banned smoking last year during the pandemic. 

“Consumption did not reduce one bit – and everything becomes illicit,” he said.