Philip Morris’ (PM) U.K. managing director thinks that smokers should give up cigarettes in favor of the company’s heated tobacco products, which he said are less harmful. Peter Nixon made the claims on ITV’s ‘Good Morning Britain’ Wednesday, which also aired on national No Smoking Day in the U.K.
Nixon told viewers that smoking is bad for them and Philip Morris products contribute to 100,000 smoking-related deaths in the U.K. each year. Nixon went on to say that, “People die because of cigarettes and we sell them. I take that very, very seriously.
“We are part of the problem but we want to be part of the solution. What we’re trying to do is give alternatives to smokers,” he added.
‘Good Morning Britain’ hosts Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid claimed that Nixon’s idea to stop smoking in lieu of a heated tobacco product was in line with “McDonald’s selling salad,” calling it “a joke.”
When Nixon was asked why Philip Morris just doesn’t stop selling cigarettes, he said that would not lead to people to stop smoking but rather cause them to switch to another brand.
“I’d love to stop selling cigarettes,” he said. “But we would go out of business and that wouldn’t mean people give up they would just switch to another brand.
“There are going to be smokers in the UK for another 30 or 40 years, but there’s no reason for people to smoke anymore.
“We have been investing in alternative products and I have put all my energy into converting people from the most harmful form of tobacco, which is cigarettes, to less harmful, e-cigarettes and heated tobacco.”
Philip Morris produces 800 billion cigarettes worldwide every year and has recently concentrated its efforts on heated tobacco products such as the IQOS.
According to Nixon, 80 percent of smokers that tried heated tobacco products were able to stop smoking in comparison with 20 to 30 percent that use e-cigarettes.
Nixon told Morgan and Reid that he has given up smoking, which was called “staggeringly hypocritical,” by Reid.
Morgan and Reid also pushed Nixon to reveal his annual salary on air, which was told at less than £1million. While Nixon though the question was “unfair” he did mention that his annual bonus was reliant on the number of smokers he converted to the alternative tobacco products each year.
Shares of Philip Morris stock were up 0.84 percent as of 2:29 p.m. on Wednesday.