Philip Morris looks beyond cigarettes with alternative products

Wed Nov 30, 2016 1:29pm EST
 
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By Martinne Geller

LONDON (Reuters) - Philip Morris International (PM.N: Quote), the world's largest international tobacco company, said it could eventually stub out cigarette sales as it launched an alternative product in Britain on Wednesday.

Underlining the regulatory pressures facing the tobacco industry, a British court also on Wednesday rejected an appeal against new rules prohibiting the use of marketing such as logos or colors on cigarette packs.

The British government's victory could spur other countries to follow suit, highlighting the need for tobacco companies to develop alternatives to cigarettes to respond to health concerns that are leading more people to quit a habit responsible for an estimated 6 million deaths a year.

Executives from Philip Morris, which sells Marlboros everywhere except the United States, said their ultimate goal was to phase out cigarettes.

"We certainly see a future where Philip Morris no longer will be selling cigarettes in the market," Martin Inkster, managing director of Philip Morris UK and Ireland, told Reuters.

He said that would take many years and require the help of governments and regulators. Philip Morris still produces more than 870 billion cigarettes each year.

Philip Morris, along with British American Tobacco BATS.L, Japan Tobacco International (2914.T: Quote) and Imperial Brands (IMB.L: Quote), mounted a legal challenge to Britain's plain packaging law that was shot down by a High Court in May.

Philip Morris did not join in the appeal brought by the other three, saying it preferred to focus on lower-risk products such as IQOS. It has not explained the origin of the name, but some observers have dubbed it "I Quit Ordinary Smoking".   Continued...

 
Packs of Marlboro cigarettes are displayed for sale at a convenience store in Somerville, Massachusetts July 17, 2014.   REUTERS/Brian Snyder