World’s largest cigarette maker is making acquisitions as it pursues a ‘smoke-free’ future. Many scientists are doubtful.

Ruth Tal-Singer spent more than two decades at GlaxoSmithKline, where she was a top scientist studying COPD — a chronic lung disease often related to smoking. She’s published dozens of influential scientific papers. And she now helps run the nonprofit COPD Foundation.

So she was stunned when a recruiter contacted her this summer to see if she would be interested in working with Philip Morris International, the world’s largest listed tobacco company.

“Mind-boggling,” she said.

The tobacco company’s bid to hire Tal-Singer is a piece of a much larger plan by the New York-based company to pivot away from cigarettes and develop new lines of business that go beyond just smoke-free products. Philip Morris International calls it a “Beyond Nicotine” strategy and says it wants to earn $1 billion from these new ventures by 2025.

All cigarette companies know the industry that established their fortunes is fading, as smoking rates decline worldwide. Most are invested in vaping and e-cigarettes. But no Big Tobacco firm has been as aggressive as Philip Morris International in seeking out entirely new ways of making money.

Read full article here.

Todd C. Frankel – Washington Post – 2021-09-02.

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