Uche Usim, Abuja
Philip Morris International (PMI), a leading manufacturer of cigarettes has said that it was taking strategic steps to deliver a future without cigarettes by leveraging on its massive investments in science and technology.
PMI’s Vice President for Strategic and Scientific Communications, Dr. Moira Gilchrist in a statement on Saturday, said that with the right regulatory encouragement and support from civil society, the company believes that the goal can be achieved in many countries in 10 to 15 years (2035).
Gilchrist noted that since 2008, PMI has invested over $7.2 billion in developing, testing, and manufacturing better alternatives to cigarettes, like the I Quit Original Smoking (IQOS) electronic tobacco heated system that produces a vapour, rather than harmful smoke, for adults who would otherwise continue to smoke.
These products, she said, are the result of nearly two decades of research and development, underpinned by a rigorous scientific assessment programme and led by a team that today includes more than 430 world-class scientists and other experts.
According to her, “PMI will make our scientific findings and methods available for others to scrutinize, we invite independent research into our products, and we encourage a broad, science-based conversation with regulators, scientists, and the public health community about these better alternatives and the role they can play in tobacco control and harm reduction.”
She added: “science is central to delivering on this commitment” as a result, PMI carried out a survey where it was discovered that many people around the world believe that science can solve critical world challenges.
The research discovered that a majority of adults all over the world want greater focus on science-based decision-making.
According to Gilchrist, “Unfortunately, governments and broader society have yet to embrace science at its fullest potential”.
Over 19,000 adults across 19 countries and territories participated in the independent survey conducted by Povaddo, on behalf of PMI, between June 25 and July 8, 2020.
The respondents, who aged 21 and above, are from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Vietnam.
The international survey showed that belief in science is high, with most people surveyed (77 percent) hopeful that advances in science will solve many of society’s biggest problems.
90 percent of the respondents want businesses to prioritize science, saying it is important to them that businesses invest continually in science to improve their products.
About half of the respondents (47 percent) also believe that society does not place enough importance on science.
The PMI Vice President added that “ensuring facts and evidence are given greater prominence in policymaking —over ideology, politics, and unsubstantiated beliefs—will help match the public’s expectations for science to sit at the heart of decisions impacting them and their future.”
The PMI survey showed that “nearly half of the total sample indicated that they find it difficult to access reliable information about scientific developments and relevant studies”.
Gilchrist noted that “this finding is alarming and sends a clear signal across business, media, and government that accurately communicating scientific information should remain an important priority” Gilchrist said.
According to Gilchrist, “when reliable scientific information is in short supply, misinformation, wild guesses, and hearsay can take more space and significantly hamper people’s ability to make informed decisions”.