Philip Morris International (PMI)’s Chief Executive Officer André Calantzopoulos on September 24 said that cigarette sales could end within 10 to 15 years in many countries with support from civil society and right regulatory encouragement.

PMI, which manufactures cigarette brands like Marlboro, has previously said that it is pushing towards “smoke-free” products that are a “much better choice than cigarette smoking”.

Calantzopoulos made the comments at the Concordia Annual Summit, which coincides with the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meeting, and brings together leaders from the world of business, governments and non-profit organisations, for a dialogue.

“A future in which cigarettes are obsolete is within reach. In fact, with the right regulatory encouragement and support from civil society, we believe cigarette sales can end within 10 to 15 years in many countries. Yes, that’s right: an end to cigarettes within 10 to 15 years in many countries,” Calantzopoulos said.

However, he cautioned that “political agendas and ideology are slowing progress and keeping millions of people uninformed”.

Calantzopoulos argued that instead of having an “evidence-based conversation” on how to regulate innovative products to help adults quit smoking cigarettes, “we are often faced with an ideologically driven resistance from some public health organizations and some NGOs”.

He claimed that more than 11.2 million people had already switched to the cigarette and tobacco manufacturing giant’s main smoke-free product and stopped smoking. “Many more have switched to other smoke-free alternatives that are better than continued smoking. This is a profound public health achievement,” he added. Calantzopoulos also warned that a smoke-free future is “not yet guaranteed” and it will require adherence to science, collaboration and a “commitment to accelerate information to the people most directly concerned”.

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