Philip Morris International: Science, innovation and inclusion are key to solving the world’s most pressing problems, says PMI CEO in Concordia summit speech
Jacek Olczak, CEO of Philip Morris International Inc. (PMI) (NYSE: PM), spoke today on the occasion of 2021 Concordia Annual Summit. Olczak discussed the need to learn lessons from the global response to COVID-19 and create transparent frameworks and partnerships that harness innovation to build a better world. He explained the importance of focusing on peer-reviewed science to tackle major global issues, including environmental pressure, social inequalities, the health pandemic and smoking. Olczak described how the exclusionary practices of many tobacco control organizations and NGOs make it more difficult for PMI to deliver tobacco harm reduction solutions by introducing science-based alternatives as the company moves away from manufacturing and marketing. sale of cigarettes.
Concordia’s annual summit, which coincides with the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meeting, brings together the world’s foremost business leaders, governments and nonprofits to foster dialogue and enable effective partnerships for a positive social impact.
Excerpts from Jacek Olczak’s speech follow.
âWe came together today to talk about resilience and recovery. Share our views and ideas on how to build a better world for all.
âTwo things are certain: we cannot build the future we want by relying on the same blueprints we used to build our recent past. And going back to a version of yesterday’s ânormalâ is unthinkable. It would be a dereliction of duty and an unforgivable waste of our opportunity to evolve and grow as a society.
âWith COVID-19, we have received a terrible burdenâ¦ and a gift. An opportunity to recreate our world, building on the lessons we have learned during 18 months of confinement, fear and uncertainty.
âOne lesson that has been particularly resonant to me is how irrational it is to attempt to tackle a large-scale global challenge, such as the current pandemic, behind closed doors and without input from all parties concerned. Additionally, our recent experiences have shown me how counterproductive it is to prioritize some people and perspectives over all others to the point of obscuring truths and blocking innovative and more immediate solutions.
âWe have the opportunity to build a better world, but we won’t be able to do it until we open the doors to new partnerships and new frameworks. To initiate change, we must open our minds and be ready to welcome all relevant parties and perspectives to the table. To recover, rebuild and repair our world, we must act in unison as a global community rather than being guided by provincial thought.
âAs CEO of Philip Morris International, I have witnessed how the ‘old normal ways’ of working stand in the way of progress.
âThe situation we face as a business is relatively simple: Worldwide, over a billion people continue to smoke cigarettes. We can all agree that this is a bad thing, for these people and for public health. Regulatory measures to reduce this number have had a limited effect, but not enough to solve the problem. The answers for the future lie squarely in a staunch commitment to science and technological innovation.
âOver the past decade, we have made a huge scientific and technological breakthrough: companies like mine have developed smoke-free products that eliminate combustion, products such as electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco systems. While not without risk, these products have been scientifically proven to be a much better alternative to continued smoking.
“That’s great news, isn’t it?” Adults who continue to smoke now have better alternatives to smoking. Who could object to their switching to these better options?
âYou would be surprised.
âRather than celebrating what by any objective measure is a positive breakthrough in public health, some interest groups prioritize ideology, politics and the desire for retaliation over progress. Fixed on the fantasy of a completely tobacco-free world, they lost sight of the opportunity that exists today, refusing to accept the science behind these alternatives and dismissing harm reduction as a solution for the better.
âWe only have to look at Japan to see a market in which the introduction of heated tobacco products is directly correlated with an accelerated decline in cigarette consumption.
âEqually disturbing, authorities around the world are being influenced by generously funded special interest groups and NGOs who fear losing the funding they earn by continuing the battle of the last century. The constructions put in place by the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control are deliberately misinterpreted. For example, Article 5.3 of the Convention, intended to limit the influence of industry – something we respect and support – is used to censor and ostracize criticism, silence reasoned voices and block debate.
âThe closed doors, secrecy and intrigue that marked criticism of the tobacco industry 30 years ago are now, ironically, common practice for many anti-tobacco organizations and NGOs. Unfortunately, their tactics make it harder for my business to meet our goal of no longer making or selling cigarettes. As we develop our long-term business outside of tobacco and nicotine and invest in pharma, we face the same illogical exclusion.
âDisplaced fear and resistance to change must be fought.
âWe need to eliminate the politics and ideological principles that hinder progress, and not just when it comes to tobacco harm reduction. The harms of exclusionary policies and counterproductive measures apply with similar force to climate change, pandemic mitigation, institutionalized inequalities and other pressing challenges.
âIntentionally or not, the ‘old guard’ has created a world that the majority lack. They championed policies that favor the status quo over smart change.
âIt’s time for new voices. It is time to adopt more inclusive and pragmatic approaches.
âScience, when verified by peer review, is science. Facts are facts. The idea that a scientific discovery must be wrong because it came from a particular company or industry is absurd, especially when it has been confirmed by governments, scientists and other respected third parties. We need to remove the stigma that scientific innovation funded by a tobacco company cannot be reliable or in the public interest. Equally essential, we must stop excluding men and women who smoke from the conversation. These are the people who stand to gain the most from lower risk alternatives. They must have a right to a voice.
âWe can continue to empower these groups to determine who needs to get involved in problem solving, even if they don’t have much to show for their decades of work. Or we can instead work together, as smartly and as quickly as possible, to solve the very real issues that threaten us all.
âIt’s human nature to stick with what we know. Thanks to the big hiatus from COVID-19, we’ve had time to reflect on where this trend has taken us. What we need now is not the same, but a new thought. We need to get out of our echo chambers and monolithic committees and conferences so that innovative thinking and science can pass. Healthy debate requires differences and dissent. I urge those of you gathered here today to ask how we can create a better future. Will it be by doubling down on dogma and division, or will it be by embracing collaboration, diversity and inclusiveness? The challenges ahead are enormous. The consequences of our inability to respect them are great.
âI am not here to raise tensions. Rather the opposite. I am here to ask you to help end the outdated and exclusionary approaches that prevent us from moving forward as a society. And I ask you to put public health ahead of ideology and old grudges. If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past year and a half, it’s that science, innovation and inclusion must be allowed to prevail.
âI have been in front of you for four months in my role as CEO of PMI, a company in deep transformation.
We are passionate about our commitment to smoker the world and create a better future, a future without cigarettes. Now, we need you – and everyone in positions of influence – to join us in smoke-free spirits so that we can rebuild a better future for all, faster. ”
A recording of the speech will be available for viewing at www.pmi.com/unsmokethefuture
Philip Morris International: Providing a Smoke-Free Future
Philip Morris International (PMI) is leading a transformation of the tobacco industry to create a smoke-free future and ultimately replace cigarettes with smokeless products for the benefit of adults who would otherwise continue to smoke, society, business, of its shareholders and other stakeholders. PMI is a leading international tobacco company engaged in the manufacture and sale of cigarettes, as well as smokeless products, related electronic devices and accessories, and other nicotine-containing products in markets outside of the States. -United. In addition, PMI ships versions of its IQOS Platform 1 device and consumables to Altria Group, Inc. for sale under license in the United States, where these products have received marketing authorizations from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as part of the pre-market tobacco product application process (PMTA); the FDA has also cleared a version of IQOS and its consumables as a modified risk tobacco product (MRTP), believing that an exposure modification order for these products is appropriate to promote public health. PMI is building a future on a new category of smoke-free products which, while not without risk, are a much better choice than continuing to smoke. Through multidisciplinary capabilities in product development, state-of-the-art facilities and scientific rationale, PMI aims to ensure that its smoke-free products meet the preferences of adult consumers and meet stringent regulatory requirements. PMI’s smoke-free product portfolio includes heatless vapor products that contain nicotine. As of June 30, 2021, PMI’s smoke-free products are available for sale in 67 markets in key cities or nationwide, and PMI estimates that approximately 14.7 million adults worldwide have already switched to IQOS and quit smoking. For more information, please visit www.pmi.com and www.pmiscience.com.