More Big Tobacco hypocrisy

Laughing all the way to the bank

Philip Morris International (PMI) claim their new ‘heat not burn’ tobacco product that goes under the name of IQOS isn’t an e-cigarette. They say this because e-cigarettes are prohibited in Thailand.

The Managing Director of the Thailand division of PMI, Mr Gerald Margolis (pictured), argues that their new product ‘…is different from e-cigarettes, which generate nicotine-containing aerosols by heating a liquid without using tobacco leaves’, and adds that ‘many smokers find it difficult to quit, so it was important for them to have access to less harmful alternatives’. Incidentally, it’s curious, is it not, that e-cigarettes are prohibited in Thailand but ordinary dangerous cigarettes are freely available?

But it’s a quibble for Mr Margolis to say their new product, that heats tobacco rather than burning it, isn’t an e-cigarette; nor, he might add, is it an ordinary cigarette. The fact is that it’s made from tobacco, and whether the tobacco is burned, heated, or just the nicotine is extracted and inhaled in a vapour, does not detract from the essential nature of this product: a nicotine-delivery device.

Let’s look at this in a little more detail. ‘Many smokers find it difficult to quit (ordinary cigarettes)’, PMI says. And why does this difficulty exist? Are people born as smokers? Obviously, the reason many smokers find it difficult to quit is because, soon or immediately after they start smoking, they become addicted to the nicotine in the cigarettes and thenceforth feel compelled to go on smoking. And why did they try that first cigarette? Because, for no good reason, they decided to imitate other smokers.

And who’s to blame for anyone starting to smoke at all? In my view it’s the government of the country concerned – for allowing such a dangerous product to be sold. Or, if we’re to take a lenient view towards governments, the blame is with PMI and their partners-in-crime in Big Tobacco for knowingly and immorally making and selling potentially lethal cigarettes.

Now, having succeeded brilliantly in getting millions of smokers addicted to cigarettes, they are trying to keep their customers hooked on tobacco products that they say are less risky. But this means they’re still risky!

Mr Margolis: ‘Our vision on (sic) “designing a smoke-free future” is to replace cigarettes with non-combustible products as soon as possible.’

No one should be misled by weasel words such as ‘vision’ and ‘smoke-free future’. What about a tobacco- and nicotine-free future? And what does he mean by ‘as soon as possible’? It’s a vague time maybe decades away.

No one needs tobacco or nicotine in any form. And if PMI were so concerned to reduce the risk to their nicotine-addicted customers, why don’t they just stop making and selling ordinary cigarettes straight away (or within a short time-frame such as two years) and only make and sell supposedly less risky products?

If they really wanted to do the decent thing (don’t laugh) they could get out of the tobacco business entirely.

Text © Gabriel Symonds

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