(RTTNews.com) - Philip Morris International Inc. (PMI) has launched a new advertising campaign in the UK that encourages people to stop smoking. However, the tobacco giant has been accused by anti-smoking campaigners of hypocrisy and cynicism for the move.
The maker of Marlboro cigarettes announced earlier in 2018 that it intends to eventually stop selling cigarettes in the UK in favor of vaping and smoke-free, heated tobacco products, regarded as less harmful alternatives to cigarettes.
Philip Morris has now launched its "Hold My Light" campaign, saying that the campaign is intended for adult smokers and anyone who wants to help a smoker give up cigarettes for 30 days. The company claims that if a smoker is able to give up cigarettes for a month, he is five times more likely to give up smoking for good.
Philip Morris launched the new ad in several UK newspapers on Monday, with links to a website where smokers can create a profile and have friends as well as family members to pledge offers of support if the smokers commit to give up smoking for an initial 30 days.
However, the company's ad campaign has been criticized by Cancer Research U.K.
"This is a staggering hypocrisy from a tobacco company to promote its own smoking cessation products in the U.K. while continuing to promote tobacco cigarettes across the world," the charity's Tobacco Policy Manager George Butterworth said.
Butterworth added that the best way that Philip Morris, which makes almost 800 billion cigarettes each year, could help people to stop smoking is by stopping production of cigarettes.
Action on Smoking and Health or ASH, a health charity in the UK, has also criticized the campaign.
Advertising tobacco products is illegal in the UK since 2003. Since May 2017, cigarettes are required to be sold only in standardized 'plain packaging' with health warnings.
Philip Morris is focusing on e-cigarettes and heated tobacco brands such as iQOS, Nicocig and Vivid. iQOS, a device that heats tobacco instead of burning it, is already sold in 42 countries, but is not currently available in the U.S.
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