New TCRG research casts doubt on PMI’s transformation claims

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A new paper from the Tobacco Control Research Group published in BMJ Tobacco Control has cast doubts on the ‘transformation’ claims of tobacco company Phillip Morris International (PMI). Research suggests that not only were ‘aspirational’ cigarette shipping targets announced by PMI in fact highly conservative, but even those modest targets are unlikely to be met.

In collaboration with Prof. Richard Edwards at the University of Otago, New Zealand, the researchers used statistical modelling techniques to analyse data taken from PMI quarterly financial reports 2008-2023, finding that the 2025 target for reduced cigarette shipments was very conservative and would be met on pre-existing trends when the 2020 announcement was made.

They also discovered that PMI’s cigarette shipments since the announcement have barely declined at all, and currently the company is not on track to meet even the conservative 2025 target, with shipments set to remain over 10% above the target.

As the researchers note:

Stalling of the decline of PMI’s and global cigarette sales raises significant concerns about progress in global tobacco control. [This] … is worrying from a public health standpoint and emphasises the need for continued vigilance from policy makers and tobacco control advocates.”

In relation to PMI’s claims of transformation, the authors also note:

Data presented here show a company that is not so much transforming, as one retaining a sizeable cigarette business … where the decline in sales has stabilised, while introducing a second business arm (HTPs) that is a driver of significant extra revenue”.

Read the paper:

Analysis of Philip Morris International’s ‘aspirational’ target for its 2025 cigarette shipments,  J. Mehegan, A. Gallagher, S. Elmitwalli, R. Edwards, A. Gilmore, Tobacco Control, May 2024. doi: 10.1136/tc-2023-058511

Tobacco Control Research Group news item

See also the Tobacco Tactics article Heated Tobacco Products: Philip Morris International

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