At the recently held Africa Reporters Workshop on Harm Reduction held in Johannesburg, South Africa, Alessandro Maria Poggiali, Vice President, Corporate Affairs EEMA and Duty Free at Philip Morris International (PMI), told EnviroNews that, for those who continue to go for tobacco, the e-cigarette or smokeless cigarette is the better alternative in terms of harm reduction to health and the environment
Media executives across Africa are gathered here to deliberate on issues related to harm reduction in tobacco use. What sort of engagement would you like to see from them vis-à-vis this campaign?
We have embarked on a great journey. We want to transform ourselves and the industry by offering consumers better alternatives to smoking, and I think the media have a very important role to play. Our job is to inform the consumer, inform the authorities, and inform the media. Overall, we have a role in making the consumers aware of what is going on.
In terms of the alternatives to smoking, how well have you been able to take them across the continent and beyond?
We have launched these products including our flagship product iQos e-cigarette in more than 38 countries all over the world in the last two years, and that’s an incredibly exciting moment for us because we have already such a limited time span.
More than five million smokers will decide to go for a better alternative and, in Africa, I’m very proud that the first African country which launched the iQos is South Africa. Similarly, we launched in Palestine in the Middle East region, and we are very happy for the reaction of consumers. And definitely it’s a better alternative for those who continue to go for tobacco.
A source of concern is that these alternatives appear to be out of the reach of the ordinary people. How affordable are these alternatives?
Those product pricing is normally paramentalised to the product pricing worldwide. There is a great difference in the market and the country and we have that point very much in mind. Our scientific and developmental effort has produced a different number of platforms to meet the different consumer needs and demands. So, we are confident we will have the right option for every type of consumer and eagerly here in South Africa, I will like one day to see South Africa becoming a smoke-free country.
Do you think that these alternatives can lead to a healthy and safer environment?
We believe that those are better for the consumer, better for the society, and better for those who are around the consumer; the millions of men and women who smoke, and their family and their friends who are around them. So, those are definitely better alternatives.
You said you’ve launched in South Africa. What plans do you have for other parts of Africa?
Our goal is to make this product available to all smokers all over the world, and it’s a strong commitment that our CEO has taken. Clearly, we are starting with our existing consumer base, and eagerly we will like to make this product available everywhere.