On day 2 of The Economic Times Global Business Summit 2023, Jacek Olczak, CEO of Philip Morris International, talked about how innovative science-based products can encourage smokers to switch to less harmful alternatives.
Excerpts from Olczak’s speech at ET GBS 2023
Science, innovation, and technology have paved the transformational roadmap for harm reduction, resulting in rapid improvements in public health around the world today. Deep research has clearly indicated that if incorporated well, this can be instrumental towards the greater good of prevention, ultimately saving lives.
There are still around 1 billion people worldwide who smoke. Imagine if we could get them to stop—either by quitting tobacco and nicotine altogether (always the best choice) or, for those who don’t, by switching to safer alternatives, now available. For too long, smokers have been given a binary choice: They can quit, or they can continue to smoke. We know the reality still remains, that a vast majority are unable to quit—which is why the World Health Organization forecasts there will still be around a billion smokers in 2025.
What if we could significantly reduce that number by offering those adults who can’t quit another option: smoke-free products that are scientifically demonstrated to be a much better choice than continued cigarette use?
Globally, public health authorities and other experts have begun to recognise the public health potential of this new category of products. Many countries around the world have embraced tobacco harm reduction policies and are seeing results.
India has a history of harm reduction policies that worked. And now it has an enormous opportunity to encourage smokers to abandon cigarettes and other products and switch to better alternatives, to the benefit of their health and public health. It is time to work together to leverage science and technology for positive change that could bring dozens of millions of Indians to live a better life.
Jacek Olczak is the Chief Executive Officer of Philip Morris International (PMI)