Tobacco giant Philip Morris is paying people to help quit smoking

Published: June 30, 2017
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Packs of Marlboro cigarettes are displayed for sale at a convenience store in Somerville, Massachusetts
PHOTO: Reuters

Packs of Marlboro cigarettes are displayed for sale at a convenience store in Somerville, Massachusetts PHOTO: Reuters

One of the world’s leading tobacco companies, Philip Morris has said it wanted people to quit smoking, reported The Independent.

Peter Nixon, the UK chief executive of the international tobacco giant said, “We are absolutely serious – one day, we want to stop selling cigarettes.” The company has committed to bringing about a smoke-free world that it has decided to pay brand ambassadors, termed “freelancers”, to persuade people to quit smoking.

These “freelancers” gain £50 per ‘conversion’ from a smoker to a non-smoker. Successful conversions shall be the aim of the company. “A freelancer is someone who helps people to give up, because for people who have been smoking for many many years, to change that habit is not easy,” Nixon told BBC’s Today Programme.

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“Freelancers take them through a seven-day programme, like a coach. Each day the freelancer helps them through this change,” he added.

The company launched a “heat not burn” product in the UK last year and says it has seen “unprecedented” sales growth. As the name suggests, the product heats up the tobacco, but without the smoke.

The users still manage to get a nicotine hit, but it is significantly less harmful than a traditional cigarette. “Our main objective is to help people to move away from cigarettes,” said Nixon.

The tobacco boss said 70 per cent of people were able to completely stop smoking using the heat not burn product.

Doctors stress there is no ‘safe way’ to smoke

While vaping is the more popular smoke-free nicotine option in the UK, its statistics are relatively low; only about 15-20 per cent of people are able to stop smoking, said Nixon.

“Products like this are an absolute game changer for the industry and they’re really going to help people stop smoking,” he maintained.

The heated tobacco range is already on sale in over a dozen markets including Japan, Switzerland and Italy. The product is expected to reach the US this year after extensive application process. It will have to pass a second hurdle with the Food and Drug Administration before it can be marketed as safer than cigarettes.

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