Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Geneva — Philip Morris International says it will spend about $1bn setting up a foundation to reduce the prevalence of smoking, as the maker of Marlboro cigarettes aims to convert smokers into consumers of devices that do not burn tobacco.

Derek Yach, a former World Health Organisation official who worked on a global tobacco treaty, will lead the group, according to a statement on Wednesday. The cigarette maker said it planned to spend about $80m annually over 12 years on the project, starting in 2018.

More than 3-million smokers have switched to Philip Morris’s IQOS, which heats rather than burns tobacco. The Marlboro maker has applied to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval to market the device as a product that may reduce the risk of smoking-related diseases. The FDA said in July that it was considering regulations that would reduce the nicotine in cigarettes to below addictive levels, which led to a slump in tobacco stocks.

The new group, called the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, said it would fund research, evaluate the effects of smoke-free alternatives, measure progress towards eliminating smoking and consider ways to prepare tobacco farmers for reduced demand.

Yach and Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, were due to speak at a nicotine conference in New York on Wednesday, to present the foundation.

Bloomberg

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