Fumo, Di Giovanni (Philip Morris): “Italy well positioned on alternative products”

Italy was a pioneering country for us, because it was among the first in which Philip Morris tested Iqos“, produced with heated tobacco. “We started with Milan and Nagoya” in Japan. “And at the beginning the adoption was slower than in Nagoya, but over time, Italy has actually grown significantly. Now we are at percentages of over 20% of ‘Iqos users’ in some key cities including Rome and Milan. So it’s actually going very well and there’s certainly a growth in smokers switching to Iqos, abandoning traditional cigarettes. This is a country that has also had some adoption of e-cigarettes, so it’s well positioned. Now we hope that over time there will be more information campaigns as there is in New Zealand, and in the UKto ensure that this good start turns into an acceleration that really leads us to think of cigarettes as a museum piece”. This was explained by Tommaso Di Giovanni, Vice President International Communications of Philip Morris International.

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On the occasion of the fifth edition of ‘Technovation‘, an event promoted by the company in its research and development center ‘The Cube’, in Neuchatel in Switzerland, for a discussion on the role that innovation, technology and scientific research can play in replacing cigarettes SME works, Di Giovanni explained that Italy could be among the countries that in a time span of 10-15 years could see traditional cigarettes replaced by products without combustionAnd. But “here too we need the convergence of all those who have a role to play – he warned – Smokers must understand that the best thing they can do is to quit altogether but, if they don’t quit, they should consider smoke-free alternatives”.

At the moment the great tricolor metropolises, Milan and Rome, are distinguished by peaks in the shares of those who ‘switch’: over one in 5 smokers use Iqos, according to the data released. The new government has recently taken office in the country. And “it’s too early to say what we expect now” from the new course, continued Di Giovanni when answering a question about it. “We will continue to do what we have always done, that is to seek dialogue with all those who have a role to play in the change. We hope that there will be stability and a situation that favors investment and that potentially correct information will be given to smokers so that they can decide to change. For us the most important thing is this: stability and in the future that there is growth in the ability to inform smokers to make sure they switch from the cigarette which is a product that is clearly bad for some products that we believe are substantially different”.

Di Giovanni speaks of “constructive dialogue, based on facts and science, to improve the situation of those who smoke and therefore also of public health. There is skepticism, it is true, on the part of some – he admitted – But there is also a theme of lack of information. If you look at the public opinion data, people still think that it’s specifically nicotine that causes smoking-related illnesses. Data from public health authorities in countries such as France, the United Kingdom and the USA tell us that there is a lot of confusion. In the UK, Public Health England in its latest report points out that this is the biggest obstacle to change”.

As for relations with the authorities, according to Di Giovanni “they have improved a lot since we started working on alternative products. Proof of this is the fact that today there are between 15 and 20 countries where the authorities have updated their regulations to take advantage of the opportunities provided by technological development. And this goes in a different direction from what we observe with regard to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control”, which develops within the context of the World Health Organization, “which tends to take a rather ideological position: everything must be prohibited and perhaps too much emphasis is placed on potential risks without seeing the opportunities for public health. We will continue to dialogue and to ensure that science is discussed. And we hope that when there are serious questions about the adoption of these smoke-free products, answers based on evidence and pragmatism will be given.”

Today “there are nearly 20 million smokers who have adopted Iqos, a figure that does not take into account Russia and Ukraine (which have been eliminated from our financial results due to environmental volatility).” Of these over 2.5 million in Italy. “But the most interesting fact is i 13.5 million smokers who have given up cigarettes altogether – highlighted Di Giovanni – That is, 70% of those who adopt the ‘smoke free’ product abandon cigarettes. And this is important for us because the benefits are seen above all in this circumstance, when you quit your cigarettes”.

On the industry front, therefore, a keyword is damage reduction. “An opportunity to reinvent yourself”, according to an editorial published in ‘Jama’ by two US scientists, Howard Koh of the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and Michael Fiore of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention. This path, they recall, was illuminated when in 1976 “Dr. Michael Russell observed that ‘people smoke for nicotine but die from tar'”. The authors highlight the role that industry can play and call it to commit itself. Corporations, the message goes, have “the unique power to advance stated goals of harm reduction and a smoke-free future.”

“We believe that all stakeholders, despite their differences, can unite behind 3 main principles – conclude the researchers – devalue cigarettes and combustion products; support a future in which FDA-approved smoking cessation drugs and reduced-harm products help adult smokers quit to use all tobacco products or to shift the risk continuum towards substantially less harmful forms of nicotine administration; And protect children, adolescents and young adults dependence and exposure to tobacco”.

Fumo, Di Giovanni (Philip Morris): “Italy well positioned on alternative products”