Can increased transparency of the tobacco companies’ reporting on their business contribute to greater acceptance of their role in reducing smoking-related harm?

      Motles, J.

      Conference date
      Jun 18, 2021
      Conference name
      Global Forum on Nicotine (GFN) 2021

      Below is the transcript of the video:

      Hello my name is Jennifer Motles and I'm PMI’s Chief Sustainability Officer. In this presentation I will discuss whether increased transparency of the tobacco companies’ reporting on their business can contribute to greater acceptance of their role in reducing smoking-related harms. Today, medical and scientific communities overwhelmingly support policies leading to reducing tobacco consumption.  

      However, there are differences about the final objective of such policies and about the choice of those policies. They are particularly visible in the debate around products designed to reduce the harms of smoking such as e-cigarettes, heated tobacco products or snus and about the role of tobacco companies. For some, anything that is in the interests of tobacco companies must by definition be bad for public health, it means nothing can be both in the interest of public health and the tobacco industry. 

      On the other hand, others believe that the buy in from tobacco companies is critical in accelerating the end of cigarette smoking and reducing smoking-related harms. Tobacco companies can play an important role in transitioning their consumers away from smoking to less harmful forms of nicotine consumption.  

      While today, Philip Morris International is known as a cigarette company, in 2016 it announced its new purpose to deliver a smoke-free future by focusing its resources on developing, scientifically substantiating, and responsibly commercializing smoke-free products that are less harmful than smoking. With the aim of completely replacing cigarettes as soon as possible.  

      Engaging stakeholders in the process of defining our priorities is one of the key components of this transformation. Therefore in 2019 we conducted a thorough sustainability materiality assessment to ensure we focus our resources where we can have the greatest impact. This assessment considered the perspectives of over 800 stakeholders.  

      In addition to reporting on our ESG performance to make our transformation progress both measurable and verifiable, we developed a set of bespoke KPIs, we call ‘Business Transformation Metrics’. This set of metrices, which we report on periodically, allow our stakeholders to assess the pace and the scale of the transformation as we allocate resources away from cigarette business aiming to base our success on a future where we no longer make or sell cigarettes.  

      In addition to reporting on our progress in 2020, we introduced a set of forward-looking aspirational targets to achieve by 2025. For example, we aspire to grow our smoke-free shipment volumes above 250 billion units while simultaneously decreasing our combustible product shipment volume to below 550 billion units. At the same time, we are aiming for at least 50% of our total net revenues to come from smoke-free products by 2025, which would make PMI a predominantly smoke-free product company within the next five years.  

      We believe that the tools such as the business transformation metrics, especially if also adopted by others, can promote greater transparency and accountability with regards to the transition of the industry to less harmful forms of nicotine consumption. 

      We're looking forward for more feedback from stakeholders as we update and further improve our reporting in the future. Thank you.