TRANSFORMATION TOWARDS A SMOKE-FREE FUTURE

TRANSFORMATION TOWARDS A SMOKE-FREE FUTURE

Tue, 03/06/2018 - 15:27

George Margonis, the General Manager of Philip Morris Bulgaria, on the biggest change in the history of the tobacco industry

George Margonis.jpg

Probably the most impressive things we experience nowadays when we watch period movies and TV series, like Mad Men, is not the vintage fashion or the dated technology. It is watching all those people smoke. We are living in a world that is rapidly parting with the smell of burning tobacco, and with the health risks it brings. Astonishingly, one of the agents of change is a tobacco company. Philip Morris International is now building a smoke-free future, says George Margonis. He has almost 17 years of experience in the company, and in 2016 he became the general manager of its Bulgarian branch.

The tobacco industry is changing. How is Philip Morris addressing this? What changes have you implemented and what is your ambition for the future?

Nowadays, we all are participating in a consumer-led and technology driven product revolution, one that has the potential to improve people's quality of life, and Philip Morris International (PMI) is part of this process. We are glad that our company is leading the biggest shift in the history of the tobacco sector, and that we are driving the transformation of the industry with the development of smoke-free alternatives with the potential to make a difference for the millions of men and women who smoke.

The history of tobacco trade dates back 500 years. In recent years public health experts, scientists and smokers have been looking for less harmful alternatives that could reduce health risks and benefit society at large. Today, many health experts agree that although nicotine is addictive, the main cause of smoking related diseases are the harmful chemicals generated by burning tobacco. The progress of technology and science today is helping to eliminate burning and provide millions of adult smokers around the world a new chance to enjoy tobacco by heating it, instead of burning.

Today, the harm reduction concept is supported by many public health experts around the world and some authorities in a number of countries are open to the idea that smokers, who cannot or do not want to stop smoking, should be provided with better alternatives than traditional cigarettes.

For more than a decade, we at PMI have focused our efforts and resources on the research and development of such better alternatives – innovative products that have the potential to reduce risk for adult smokers in comparison with continued smoking. There could hardly be a more ambitious and challenging goal for a leading tobacco company than to develop smoke-free products to replace cigarettes. This is our mission, and to put it into practice we have invested over $4.5 billion and involved more than 400 scientists, engineers and other experts to develop and assess our smoke-free products at the company's R&D facilities in Switzerland and Singapore. This reaffirms our full commitment towards designing a smoke-free future.

Is smoke-free future possible and will smoke-free products replace cigarettes one day?

Innovations and new technologies are driving rapid changes in every aspect of economy and everyday life. Society's and consumers' expectations also change rapidly and therefore the tobacco industry has to adapt to meet adult consumer's needs for better reduced risk alternatives. It is very important to underline that our smoke-free products are not safe or risk-free. We also state clearly that the best way to reduce harm is to quit or never to start smoking.

We strongly believe that our vision of a smoke-free future will be achieved using the principles of harm reduction. Some public health experts, authorities and regulators share the opinion that harm reduction concept can complement the existing tobacco control measures by making reduced risk alternatives available to the current adult smokers, who would otherwise continue to smoke. Bulgarian authorities, just like many others in the EU, have also progressed in this direction by creating a specific fiscal framework for the heated tobacco products. We at PMI believe that this is the right course of development for the whole industry to move towards a smoke-free future.

It is encouraging that so far close to 5 million adult smokers around the world have stopped smoking and have switched to our innovative heated tobacco product IQOS. According to the latest data we have, approximately 10,000 smokers switch to IQOS every day. Since the end of last year Bulgaria is also part of the smoke-free journey together with 37 other markets, and Bulgarians have now access to revolutionary smoke-free products. So far the results for our heat-not-burn products from around the world are encouraging. In most of the markets where IQOS was launched, 70% to 80% of the smokers who purchased it, have fully or predominantly switched to it. This is very important – in order to reduce harm we need to offer not only products that have the potential to reduce risk, but at the same time the products that satisfy adult consumers' needs and are well perceived by them. The encouraging results reached so far give us the hope that one day we can phase-out conventional cigarettes. The significant investments in R&D and over 10 years in scientific research behind our smoke-free products confirm our commitment towards this vision, and we are confident that one day these products can completely replace cigarettes.

George Margonis, the General Manager of Philip Morris BulgariaWhat does science say about smoke-free alternatives to cigarettes?

Our smoke-free products are the result of robust scientific research in our complex multi-level scientific programme. Our scientific research is conducted following the highest international standards and it brings encouraging results on the reduced risk potential of the smoke-free products compared to cigarettes.

Our own research and that of independent researchers confirm that there are significantly fewer harmful chemicals in IQOS vapour compared to cigarette smoke. Our toxicological assessment reveals that IQOS aerosol is significantly less toxic compared to cigarette smoke. Our clinical studies are ongoing, but results so far point in the direction of harm reduction. Encouragingly, in December last year, the UK Committee on Toxicity reviewed our research data in its assessment of IQOS and stated that the exposure to compounds of concern in using heat-not-burn tobacco products is reduced compared to that from conventional cigarette smoke and it is likely that there is a reduction in overall risk to health for conventional smokers who switch to heat-not-burn tobacco products. Public Health England relied in part on the committee's review for its report published earlier this year. Scientific substantiation takes time of course. We continue further research and development and have made our data available on our website www.pmiscience.com, and we encourage independent scientific verification by third parties.

Last month Scuderia Ferrari announced that they will continue their partnership with Philip Morris International. Could you tell us more about this collaboration?

Indeed, after 40 years of successful collaboration with Scuderia Ferrari, we have decided to extend our partnership until 2021 with an exclusive focus on our vision to advance a smoke-free world. Our plan does not include any product-specific communications. We believe that this is a great opportunity to create global awareness on the idea of a smoke-free world, in which all people who would otherwise continue smoking cigarettes will switch to scientifically substantiated less harmful smoke-free alternatives. We are fully committed towards this idea and we will use all available resources, including our motorsports related activities, to accelerate momentum around this revolutionary change for the benefit of people who smoke, public health and society at large. We deeply appreciate Scuderia Ferrari's support in this cause, and we believe that this is the best partner for this challenge, as it harnesses a pioneering spirit, science, technology and innovation in a relentless pursuit of great ambitions.

The material was conducted with the cooperation of Philip Morris Bulgaria

Issue 137

Commenting on www.vagabond.bg

Vagabond Media Ltd requires you to submit a valid email to comment on www.vagabond.bg to secure that you are not a bot or a spammer. Learn more on how the company manages your personal information on our Privacy Policy. By filling the comment form you declare that you will not use www.vagabond.bg for the purpose of violating the laws of the Republic of Bulgaria. When commenting on www.vagabond.bg please observe some simple rules. You must avoid sexually explicit language and racist, vulgar, religiously intolerant or obscene comments aiming to insult Vagabond Media Ltd, other companies, countries, nationalities, confessions or authors of postings and/or other comments. Do not post spam. Write in English. Unsolicited commercial messages, obscene postings and personal attacks will be removed without notice. The comments will be moderated and may take some time to appear on www.vagabond.bg.

0 comments

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.

Discover More

Iliyana Tarnina DTC Commerzbank Sofia
ILIYANA TARNINA: BULGARIAN TEAMS DEVELOP THE BANKING OF TOMORROW
Increased digitalisation, customised approach, improved data security: banking, which has been a part of civilisation for centuries, is transforming before our own eyes. And a team in Bulgaria has a significant role to play in this change.

Miglena Temelkova
PROF MIGLENA TEMELKOVA, PHD: FUTURE IS INTERDISCIPLINARY
When we arrived at the University of Telecommunications and Posts (UTP) in Sofia, we were aware that we were up for an interesting meeting. For two years now Bulgaria's oldest professional university has been managed by a young and energetic professional.

ssarm_2.jpg
SSARM: LATEST GENERATION SYSTEM INTEGRATION
The role that high technologies, AI and their capabilities to make living, travel and business easier, more effective and safer, in our lives is expanding.

Reneta Tsonkova
RENETA TSONKOVA AND THE HEART OF DIAMONDS
You need an appointment to enter the elegantly splendid Renée De Clair, a boutique for diamond jewellery and a gemological laboratory on Sofia's Rakovski Boulevard – and this is just the first sign that you are up for an experience without parallel in Bulga

Milena Videnova, CEO of AXPO Bulgaria
AXPO BULGARIA: THE ENERGY TO LEAD AND SUCCEED
Energy: the more our civilisation evolves, the more it needs it to sustain itself. With human-induced climate change already happening, clever renewable power is the only solution to save our planet and ourselves.

architect martin terziev.jpg
ARCHITECT MARTIN TERZIEV: WHEN ARCHITECTURE IS A LIFE MISSION
Architecture is a part of the human experience that exists on the verge between utilitarian and art, the functional and the visually stunning, the mundane and the extraordinary.

martina feeney.jpg
INTRODUCING MARTINA FEENEY
Martina Feeney arrived in Bulgaria in October 2020, but owing to the Covid-19 pandemic has been unable to explore the country as much as she wants.

denitsa mengova.jpg
DENITSA MENGOVA: HIGH ENERGY
The energy that Denitsa Mengova emanates stuns as early as our first meeting and helps us understand why in just a couple of years the elegant 35-year-old became a recognisable face on the Bulgarian industrial scene.

Teodora Georgieva
TEODORA GEORGIEVA: POWERING THE FUTURE
The energy future in Southeastern Europe has been a hot topic for politicians, entrepreneurs and analysts for years now. What are the best solutions? How to achieve reasonably-priced diversification?

Rob Dixon.jpg
ROB DIXON
Dr Rob Dixon arrived in Bulgaria in August 2020. Prior to that he served as deputy director for Africa at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, and as Deputy Head of Mission in Tel Aviv.

Ambassador Yoram Elron-photo.jpg
YORAM ELRON
Jews and Bulgarians have lived side by side each other for centuries. Bulgaria was among the first countries to recognise the State of Israel, in 1948.

German Gachevski
GERMAN GACHEVSKI: MISSION POSSIBLE
When Vagabond interviews a CEO or an owner of a successful Bulgarian or international company, we usually meet in a flashy office building in Sofia. The meeting with German Gachevski, founder and CEO of software company TSD Services, was more unorthodox.