It’s official, Marlboro has announced they will stop making cigarettes. Marlboro Cigarettes, owned by the world’s biggest cigarette company, Philip Morris International, announced they are moving toward smokeless alternatives and smoke-free products, such as e-cigarettes and safer tobacco products. It’s more confusing than you might think. Philip Morris International, which sells Marlboros outside of the United States announced their public intention to cease production of conventional cigarettes. Philip Morris USA, responsible for selling Marlboros stateside, has not announced that they will cease production of regular cigarettes entirely. To be clear, the story that follows reports on the Philip Morris International strategic announcement, via Newsweek, of ceasing Marlboro cigarette production and Altria’s investment in Cronos Group.
In December 2018, it was reported by CNBC that Altria invested a hefty amount in a cannabis company. It’s important to note that Altria Group, Inc. was renamed in 2003 from Philip Morris Companies Inc. Altria is the parent company of Philip Morris USA, while Philip Morris International split off in 2008. Altria bought a 45 percent stake for $1.8 billion in a Canadian company called Cronos Group. The deal places them at 55 percent ownership within 5 years, so it’s safe to say smokeless tobacco isn’t the company’s only direction.
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Philip Morris International will now focus on the IQOS, a device which heats tobacco instead of burning it. This product will only be available internationally as the FDA has not approved the device. The product has the potential to reduce “the number of noxious chemicals” found in cigarette smoke by 95 percent. CEO of Phillip Morris International, Andre Calantzopoulous, spoke about his decision, stating, “At the end of the day, the ambition we have is to replace cigarettes as soon as possible, with better alternatives for the people who continue smoking.”
The international company is looking to move away from cigarettes, as the number of smokers continues to decline year by year. Now, less than 15 percent of the population are smokers compared to 21 percent a decade ago.
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Every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control And Prevention, tobacco use causes nearly six million deaths globally. In the United States, there are 480,000 deaths due to tobacco use, which equates to nearly 1,300 deaths every day. With so much public awareness of the negative impact and effects of smoking, this can surely be a good thing for smokers who are trying to quit and lessen the impact of their health. So maybe, just maybe…this might be a good thing? Is it the beginning of a smoke-free future?
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This post was updated on February 15, 2019, to reflect editorial corrections around unclear language regarding the division between Philip Morris International and Altria, notably the correct spelling of Andre Calantzopoulos’ last name, CEO of Philip Morris International. The post unclearly implied that Marlboro cigarette production in the United States would halt, but Altria and Philip Morris USA have made no such announcements.