For years, young people have been rightly warned not to smoke cigarettes. With the current rapid pace of innovation in the tobacco products space today, that crucial conversation must evolve. We must be emphatic that youth should not use any nicotine-containing product. Period. Nicotine is addictive. It is not risk-free, and it poses particular risks for adolescents. I’m the CEO of Philip Morris International (PMI) and a parent. I am clear with my children: Do not use any nicotine-containing products.
In light of recent activity by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to tackle e-cigarette use by American youth, a new conversation on nicotine is needed more than ever — a conversation that must be paired with meaningful action by society.
Alongside parents, public health professionals and regulators, makers of tobacco and nicotine products must do their part. One of the most vocal members of the tobacco control community, Matthew Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, said recently “the public health impact of different products varies based on how and to whom they are marketed.” I agree.
At PMI we envision a smoke-free future — a world without cigarettes. For the hundreds of millions of men and women globally who will otherwise continue to smoke, our goal is to switch them to nicotine-containing products that are substantiated as better choices than continuing to smoke.
Globally, our innovative products are available in more than 40 countries. To be clear, we do not sell or market any tobacco or other nicotine containing products in the U.S., but we have submitted applications to the FDA seeking authorization to commercialize our electrically-heated tobacco product.
We know that great care must be taken to achieve our smoke-free goal. Youth should not become nicotine users. Former smokers and never smokers should not return to, or pick up, the tobacco or nicotine habit. The focus must be on providing better choices to the men and women who smoke today, including the 40 million Americans who do so.