Quit smoking today, say Philip Morris and the UKVIA
Monday, August 27, 2018 at 15:35
Simon Clark

A few weeks ago the Independent published an interview with Peter Nixon, MD of Philip Morris UK.

You probably missed it because the anti-smoking signals coming from Philip Morris are so frequent it’s not surprising if one occasionally fails to ignite.

Indeed, I suspect the law of diminishing returns has already begun to apply. Nevertheless, here’s a flavour of the Independent piece:

He [Nixon] is genuinely concerned about existing smokers. There are still seven and half million smokers in England alone. Half of them will die prematurely. “The goal is for us to get them to stop,” he says (and switch to IQOS).

Nixon is almost evangelical in his conviction and sense of purpose. He speaks of “converting” people, but he wanted to tone that down to “helping people to switch”.

So far so predictable. But this little nugget caught my eye:

Among his 400 employees in London, apparently, there is one hold-out who still smokes. “I’m working on him though.”

Think about that for a minute. Philip Morris, one of the two largest tobacco companies in the world, employs 400 people in London and according to the MD (who may have been joking, it’s difficult to tell) only one of them is a smoker.

If it’s true, is it still possible to get a job with Philip Morris if you smoke? After all, in the words of Peter Nixon:

“There is no reason for anyone to smoke any more."

You can read the full interview here (A View from the Top: Philip Morris managing director Peter Nixon on taking the smoke out of smoking).

Meanwhile the UK Vaping Industry Association - a body Philip Morris supports - sponsored a ‘Speakers’ Corner’ at the London Vape Show at the weekend.

Pictured below are some of the speakers alongside banners that feature a message the UKVIA is obviously keen to promote.

The only thing in doubt is whether ‘Quit smoking today’ is advice. Or an order.

If that’s the direction the vaping industry wants to go, good luck, but if the aim is to sell vaping to adults who enjoy smoking, adopting the language of the tobacco control industry is not, in my opinion, the best way to do it.

Yes, I know there are restrictions on how (and to whom) vaping can be promoted, but if you want smokers to switch I can think of messages that are more positive and less bossy than ‘Quit smoking today’ which sounds like a pharmaceutical company trying to flog NRT.

PS. Also worth reading, Tobacco giant Philip Morris wants to be a ‘disruptive insider’ as it targets the smoke-free market (Marketing Week, August 22).

Update: UK Marlboro boss wishes he could stop selling cigarettes tomorrow (Mail on Sunday, August 26).

Article originally appeared on Simon Clark (http://taking-liberties.squarespace.com/).
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