Philip Morris International committed in delivering a smoke-free future

One of the major buyers of Malawian tobacco, Philip Morris International (PMI) is committing itself to deliver a smoke-free future across the world that it does business with, saying its commitment aligns with the expectations that society has of consumers and companies working together.

Recently, PMI — which is leading a transformation in the tobacco industry to create a smoke-free future — conducted an international survey which fielded participation of over 44,000 adults across 22 countries making it one of the most comprehensive surveys ever conducted related to tobacco harm reduction.

Tobacco bales laid for sale

The online survey, which was conducted by Povaddo on behalf of PMI between February 5 and 23, fielded over 44,000 general population adults aged 21 and older in 22 countries and found that more than 8 in 10 respondents believe that if people and companies work together, they can have a meaningful impact on the biggest issues facing society today.

“By having balanced and inclusive discussions about science, products, and policies, we believe that we can help accelerate the end of smoking with contemporary policies and a people-centric approach,” says the narrative of the survey.

“While these smoke-free alternatives are not risk-free and contain nicotine, which is addictive, they are a much better choice than continuing to smoke.

“Transformation in the name of progress is often a difficult task to undertake. When looking at some of the biggest and most divisive questions facing the world today — from geopolitics to climate change — polarized opinions can make change harder to implement.

“However, when looking at our international survey, 82% of respondents believe that the best solutions toward real progress on the most pressing issues are achieved when a middle ground can be found between the extremes.”

Listening to All Voices

The survey indicates that grounds for progress and compromise are often found when all voices are at the table and are willing to listen and consider all sides of an argument.

Thus it was discovered:
* 90% of respondents believed that to find solutions to the biggest problems facing society today, leaders need to consider all perspectives, even those with whom there are strong disagreements;
* 88% of respondents agree that when making decisions that affect the livelihood of a significant proportion of the population, leaders must listen to and advocate for the people they represent; and
* 88% of them said they would be more likely to vote for leaders who listen to all sides of an issue and adopt sensible approaches that better the lives of everyday people.

However, the survey maintains that “when it comes to listening to nicotine consumers and considering tobacco harm reduction policies as part of a wider strategy to address the global public health issue of smoking, smokers and their views are often ignored or discounted”.

The survey found that four in 10 nicotine consumers feel discriminated against or marginalized; that only two in 10 nicotine consumers feel their voices are heard or considered and that 77% of nicotine consumers feel that their voices have been excluded for too long and that a new approach to regulation is needed to better balance the voices of nicotine consumers and those who don’t consume such products.

Says the survey: “74% of nicotine consumers feel that their views should be considered by policymakers when deciding on tobacco and nicotine regulations. Regarding tobacco policy, those who would benefit the most and are directly impacted by tobacco regulations do not feel like they have a seat at the table.”

The objective of PMI’s initiative for a tobacco smoke-free society enhances that “if you don’t smoke, don’t start”; “if you smoke, quit” and “if you don’t quit, change”.

“A consequence from increasingly divided discourse is the growing prevalence of misinformation often intended to mislead public opinion. From our survey, 85% of respondents believe decisions that impact society and public health should be made based on science and facts.

“And 87% of respondents expect their leaders to adopt laws and regulation based on facts and data to keep up with the pace of technological change and innovation.

“While 79% of respondents agree that adults who would otherwise continue smoking should have access to, and accurate information about, smoke-free alternatives that are scientifically substantiated to be a better choice than continued smoking.

“72% agree that the government needs to consider the role alternative products can play in making their country smoke-free.”

Driving Toward a Balanced Approach

The survey indicates that existing measures aimed at preventing smoking initiation and promoting smoking cessation can be complemented by strategies that enable adults who would otherwise continue to smoke to have access to and information about science-based alternatives.

“Inclusion of a harm reduction approach in policies aimed at decreasing smoking prevalence has the potential to foster more rapid declines and can allow for progress in the realm of public health.

“However, 54% of respondents also believe that conversations about science and the latest scientific developments have become more divisive. Yet, despite the increasing debate and skepticism about the validity of science and facts, there is in an appetite from the public to come together and find solutions rather than roadblocks.”

It also indicates that three in four respondents “agree that it is better if leaders pursue policy changes that would bring about incremental changes that are easy to put into action rather than wide, sweeping changes that are harder to implement”.

“In fact, taking an ‘all or nothing’ approach can be counterproductive, particularly when it comes to tobacco harm reduction and to this, 75% of respondents agree that societal expectations of total abstinence from harmful behaviours such as tobacco usage and alcohol consumption are not feasible and the government should take steps to reduce the harm of these behaviours.”

However, the survey also discovered that only one in four people believe that all they need is regulation and taxation of cigarettes to make a country smoke-free in which 67% of respondents agreed that “encouraging adults who would otherwise continue to smoke to completely switch to smoke-free alternative products can complement other efforts to reduce the societal harm caused by smoking cigarettes”.

“62% of exclusive smokers stated that they would more likely consider switching to alternative products like e-cigarettes and heat-not-burn tobacco products if they had clarity on how these products differ from cigarettes and the science behind them.

“As we consider policies that regulate tobacco usage, governments should consider the needs of all parties, including nicotine consumers. Finding a balanced approach to tobacco regulation that encourages incremental progress can help bring together all groups and have a meaningful impact on public health,” said the survey’s narrative.

Survey Methodolody

The 44,000 general population adults in the online survey were aged 21 and older in 22 countries from Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, Portugal, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, United Kingdom, and United States.

Approximately n=2,000 interviews were collected in each country (approximately n=1,000 with consumers of nicotine-containing products and approximately n=1,000 with people who do not consume nicotine-containing products).

Data was weighted to be representative of the online population in each country on the following variables: age, gender, region, and nicotine product usage. Results are accurate to a margin of error of ±1%.

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