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IASLC Statement Regarding Philip Morris’ Smoke Free Future: Leading Global Lung Cancer Association Highlights the Importance of Tobacco Control

 

Contact: Becky Bunn                                                                                                                          
Public Relations Manager                                                                       
Becky.Bunn@IASLC.org | 720-325-2946 

IASLC Statement Regarding Philip Morris’ Smoke Free Future:
Leading Global Lung Cancer Association Highlights the Importance of Tobacco Control

The International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) is the only global organization dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer. Founded in 1974, the association's membership includes more than 5,000 lung cancer specialists in 90 countries.  The health professionals in our organization are acutely aware of the harms caused by cigarette smoking since they are on the frontline of caring for the patients and families so deeply affected by cigarette use.

Reducing death caused by cigarettes and combustible tobacco is of paramount importance to the IASLC.  Any reductions in cigarette use will manifest in significant reductions in the incidence of lung cancer and several other leading causes of disease and death.  This will take several decades to become apparent.

The continued manufacture, marketing, sales, and use of cigarettes leading to chronic addiction and disease are a drain on the world economy and a major source of preventable suffering for people worldwide.  Cigarettes are responsible for millions of premature deaths annually and cost the global economy nearly one trillion a year in medical costs and lost productivity.  Most of the world’s current smokers live in developing countries where the tobacco industry faces fewer restrictions, weaker tobacco control and where smoke-free products are less available than in developed countries.

According to its own public reports, in 2016 Phillip Morris’ manufactured 800 billion cigarettes. Thus, we view with some skepticism Philip Morris’ recent statement committing to the design of a smoke-free future (January 25, 2017:  Philip Morris International Looks Toward A Smoke-free Future).  While the idea of a “smoke-free future” is something we endorse, the statement from Philip Morris notes that the proposed alternatives to tobacco cigarettes are only “potentially less harmful” and makes no concrete commitment to immediate reduction in the manufacture, distribution and sales of tobacco cigarettes around the world.

The IASLC would be supportive of real and meaningful efforts to reduce and eliminate the use of tobacco cigarettes worldwide.  The development of nicotine delivery products that reliably reduce harm associated with smoking could improve our patients’ lives as long as they are tied to a real commitment to end the sale of conventional cigarettes.

In pursuing Philip Morris’ vision of reduced-risk products, IASLC is eager to see measures introduced that drive large-scale switching away from cigarettes as quickly as possible.  To demonstrate real and meaningful commitment to a smoke-free future the IASLC recommends that Philip Morris and its affiliated companies do the following:

  •         Support government proposals such as differential taxes on cigarettes and other harmful combustible tobacco products;
  •         Support differential government regulations such as plain packaging and graphic health warnings on cigarettes and other harmful combustible tobacco products;
  •         Immediately cease litigation opposing the above measures worldwide;
  •         Support efforts to make sure consumers are properly inform about relative risks of different tobacco products; 
  •         Support the establishment of effective comprehensive regulatory oversight of its products worldwide;
  •         Openly share product related information on all products (both past and present) with public health scientists so that the science can be independently evaluated with regards to potential benefits/harms associated with old versus new products;
  •         Support smoking cessation programs worldwide.

IASLC looks forward to Philip Morris fulfilling what they told the public more than 50 years ago: ”We accept an interest in people’s health as a basic responsibility, paramount to every other consideration of our business.”  Only with such significant and visible actions can any serious consideration be given to statements as that from Philip Morris regarding supporting a smoke-free future.     

Until then, the IASLC remains committed to tobacco control, to ending the sale of tobacco cigarettes worldwide and to substantial improvements to the lives of our patients and the future of public health.

About the IASLC
The International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) is the only global organization dedicated solely to the study of lung cancer. Founded in 1974, the association's membership includes more than 5,000 lung cancer specialists in over 100 countries. Visit www.iaslc.org for more information.

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Media Contact: Becky Bunn, 720-254-9509; Becky.Bunn@iaslc.org

February 1, 2017