André Calantzopoulos, executive chairman of Philip Morris International (PMI), made a bold claim to investors in February.

A “smoke-free future” was within reach, said the boss of the company behind Marlboro, the world’s top-selling cigarette.

On July 9, he made what he hopes will be a big stride towards that future. After months quietly talking to the inhaler-maker Vectura, his hand was forced by the private equity firm Carlyle making a bid for his British target. Calantzopoulos’s company then broke cover with its own £1 billion offer, declaring that it was all part of a plan to transform PMI into a “health and wellness company”.

Anti-smoking campaigners and politicians were horrified; Vectura’s inhalers help treat asthma and lung disease — conditions exacerbated by smoking. Jonathan Ashworth, shadow health secretary, said the bid was “deeply alarming and wrong”. He wrote to Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary and Sajid Javid, the health secretary, urging them to intervene.

Read full article here.

Sabah Meddings – The Sunday Times – 2021-07-17.

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