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By Deepak Mishra, President, Americas Region, Philip Morris International
Philip Morris International (PMI) is the world’s largest publicly traded tobacco company and an organization undergoing one of the most profound transformations in corporate history. We have committed to a smoke-free future, embarking on a path to completely replace combusted cigarettes with alternatives that are scientifically substantiated to be a better choice for those adults who would otherwise continue to smoke.
We are progressing rapidly toward our goal. In 2025, we intend to be a majority smoke-free company, with more than 50% of our net revenues from smoke-free products — and as of today, nearly 30% of our net revenues come from these products. In some of the international markets where we operate, with the right regulations — and support from the public health community — we are convinced we can end cigarette sales within 10 to 15 years.
Our transformation will also take us into new territories. We are evolving beyond tobacco and nicotine, moving into other areas in which we have expertise; for example, inhalation technology for medical applications.
Our U.S. operations are critical to the better future we envision, which is why I have relocated here to take up the newly created position of President of PMI’s Americas Region. PMI recognizes that this country is home to unparalleled scientific expertise, including in the greater Boston area — a hub of innovation that drives solutions to global challenges.
As innovative as the United States is, we cannot help but recognize a potent force that impedes progress: misinformation and a lack of consensus over what constitutes “fact.”
Across the nation, falsehoods have insidiously woven their way into the public conscience, blocking progress on issues as critical as COVID-19 mitigation and better choices to continued smoking.
It is easy to say, “Follow the science.” It is far more difficult to help people actually do so.
For the public, science-based evidence can be overwhelming, overly technical, and lacking in clear statements of what progress looks like. We need to find ways to make facts more accessible and, therefore, more difficult to distort and abuse.
For policymakers, the challenge is to separate fact from fiction and serve the best interests of the public. It is a heavy responsibility. Stray too far from what constituents believe, and lawmakers can swiftly find themselves out of office.
Misinformation is an obstacle like few others. And let’s be realistic: There are no simple solutions. Objective fact-checking mechanisms — furnished by governments, multilateral bodies, news organizations, technology companies, and industry — are a must. PMI is doing its part by embracing openness, welcoming scrutiny, and encouraging evidence-based dialogue. As we transform our business to deliver a smoke-free future, we invite all interested parties to review and verify our scientific findings and draw their own conclusions. It is an example I believe others must follow.
What is crystal clear is that we cannot allow misinformation to further complicate already onerous global challenges. The status quo is too convenient, too easy, and — in some cases — too profitable for too many. Those of us who prize science and fact must act — quickly and together. A resolute commitment to confront misinformation wherever it resides, fast-track the sharing of facts and science, and dig relentlessly into motivations is a good place to start.
Sponsored by Philip Morris International
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