Tobacco giant Philip Morris International took out full-page ads in several British newspapers this week proclaiming the company’s 2018 New Year’s resolution as “trying to give up cigarettes.”
“Our ambition is to stop selling cigarettes in the UK,” the ad says, according to a screenshot from Business Insider. The message says even though it’s best for smokers to quit, many will continue to smoke.
“That’s why we want to replace cigarettes with products, such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco, which are a better choice for the millions of men and women in the UK who would otherwise not stop smoking,” the ad says.
E-cigarettes carry health risks, so much so that they are banned in public spaces in some U.S. states. In October, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed a law prohibiting individuals from using e-cigarettes and other vaping systems in public indoor spaces.
“These products are marketed as a healthier alternative to cigarettes, but the reality is they also carry long-term risks to the health of users and those around them,” Cuomo said at the time.
Anti-smoking advocates called Philip Morris’ full-page ad a “PR stunt,” according to the BBC. And, as USA Today points out, the World Health Organization has made it clear that it would not engage with the tobacco giant’s efforts to promote alternative smoking methods.
“The tobacco industry and its front groups have misled the public about the risks associated with other tobacco products. This includes promoting so-called light and mild tobacco products as an alternative to quitting, while being fully aware that those products were not less harmful to health,” WHO said in September.
WHO said Philip Morris continues its “misleading conduct” by “marketing tobacco products in ways that misleadingly suggest that some tobacco products are less harmful than others.”
According to the U.S. surgeon general, e-cigarettes pose health risks to users and those around them.
“Besides increasing the possibility of addiction and long-term harm to brain development and respiratory health, e-cigarette use is associated with the use of other tobacco products that can do even more damage to the body,“ the surgeon general’s website states. “Even breathing e-cigarette aerosol that someone else has exhaled poses potential health risks.”