To mitigate the risk factors associated with tobacco smoking, Philip Morris International (PMI), has stressed the need to jettison combustible smoking.
It said over one billion smokers were being targeted for a switch over to non-combustible smoking.
This, according to the company, is to reduce diseases associated with harmful chemicals from smoking tobacco.
At a media conference in Lagos, the head of PMI’s Scientific Engagement for Middle East, Africa, Mr Ignazio Suarez, said the company which has been operating in Europe and other continents, has decided to get into the African market with varieties of improved and smoke-free products which have been scientifically substantiated and manufactured under appropriate safety and quality controls.
Suarez said the product will be available to the Nigerian market when all necessary processes, procedures, with regulatory agencies as well as public enlightenment, are met.
He said, “The essence of our product is not to stop smoking but to reduce the risk involved with new products with less toxicants.”
Suarez stressed that the best choice to make is to quit smoking if you are a smoker, but if you do not smoke, do not start.
“For those who are ready smoking, we have varieties of electronic heated tobacco products without combustion and less nicotine and intoxicants,” he said.
On his part, the Director of External Affairs of Philip Morris International, Mr L.Y. Harouna, said the firm had invested $8 billion in research and development of least reduced risk alternatives for cigarette smokers and over a billion smokers globally are being targeted to adopt E-Cigarettes and Heated Tobacco Products (HTPs) which contain little or no nicotine and are less harmful.
“The level of toxicants in our products is reduced by 90 to 95 per cent when compared vis-a-vis the common cigarette in the market,” Harouna said.
He said the firm is still in the process of meeting the requirements of Nigeria regulatory bodies and other necessary steps before proper launch.
According to him, the aim is to see a society free of combustible smoking, because it is very difficult to stop smoking entirely.
“We need public enlightenment and orientation while we work towards its legal and economic aspects. Nigeria makes 14 per cent of global tobacco smokers and among which, 85 per cent are men, so, we want to make this per cent switch to this innovative, non-combustible and harmless smoking. The future of smoking is to make cigarettes obsolete and make people switch to digital smoking. Ours contains nicotine but is very meagre, but it is zero combustion. We are looking for a differentiated regulation for this product,” he added.
He said E-cigarettes and other related products are already in the South African markets and most countries in Europe and America.
It was disclosed that 14 per cent of the legal age of the population smoke cigarettes in Nigeria and 98 per cent of the smokers are men based on verifiable statistics.