Big Tobacco is shifting its business model towards e-cigarettes. Picture: KEVIN SUTHERLAND
Big Tobacco is shifting its business model towards e-cigarettes. Picture: KEVIN SUTHERLAND

In this edition of Business Day Spotlight, our focus is on the tobacco industry’s effort to shift consumers to healthier and less risky products than traditional cigarettes.

Our host Mudiwa Gavaza is joined by Neetesh Ramjee, director of external affairs at tobacco company Philip Morris SA.

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The discussion begins with Ramjee explaining Philip Morris’s decision to shift its business model away from traditional cigarette products to less risky alternatives such as e-cigarettes, which the company says are much safer, though not 100% risk-free.

E-cigarettes have come under the spotlight internationally in recent months as tobacco company Juul, and others, has faced pressure and legal action from US authorities and around the world for allegedly marketing its products to underage consumers.

As cigarettes have become less popular amid rising health-conscious trends, Philip Morris is preparing for a future where smoking takes on a new form.

The company recently launched a campaign on the online dating social network Tinder encouraging singles to quit smoking. The campaign, titled “Unsmoke the world, one match at a time”, has reached more than 1-million people in two weeks on the platform, says Philip Morris.

Ramjee explains what this disruption has done to the business and also details the reception of their alternative products around the world, together with the incentives in place to try to get customers to shift to their new products, as well as the challenges faced by the company in trying to get this done.

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