Philip Morris International Inc. doesn’t just want the people who see its ads to trade in their cigarettes for smokeless tobacco — it wants the people designing them to do it, too.
The company, which sells Marlboros and other brands outside of the U.S., urged its ad agencies and media partners to quit smoking, whole offices at a time. To support the effort, PMI offered to give its partners in the media, communication and creative industries smokeless alternatives for free.
The move, announced at this year’s Cannes festival, is its latest push to popularize its flagship smoke-free product, iQos. Although it seems counterintuitive for a company that made its name selling traditional tobacco, Philip Morris has been saying for a couple years now that it wants the world to quit smoking and switch to next-generation alternatives.
IQos is one of four “platforms” that Philip Morris has developed to modify the risk of ingesting nicotine. The company has been seen as a leader in the race to find better-for-you alternatives. Chief Executive Officer Andre Calantzopoulos has said he sees a future where all 1 billion smokers in the world have switched to those higher-tech products.
Quitting tobacco and nicotine remains the best option for smokers, but science-based noncombustible alternatives are a better choice for those who don’t, said Chief Operating Officer Jacek Olczak.
“We want a world where all people who would otherwise continue to smoke instead switch to less harmful alternatives,” he said in a statement announcing the call to media partners to quit.
The company, which sells and distributes six of the world’s top 15 tobacco brands, didn’t say how many iQos products it intends to distribute at no cost to its partners in the industry. It said it would offer the alternatives “wherever we can,” and only to “current smokers in the industry who would otherwise continue to smoke.”