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Multinational company plans to launch smoke-free products in Pakistan

By Our Correspondent
September 16, 2021
Multinational company plans to launch smoke-free products in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: One multinational cigarette manufacturing company is making plans to launch non-combustible alternatives (NCA) products, such as e-cigarettes in Pakistan over the next 12 to 18 months period. This can only happen if a predictable regulatory and taxation regime is placed in the country.

“We intend to launch Harm Tobacco Reduction (HTR) product by investing a substantial amount for placement of machinery provided that a proper regulatory regime is placed in Pakistan. It will take place over 12 to 18 months period,” said Managing Director Philip Morris (PMPKL) Roman Yazbeck while talking to a select group of reporters here on Wednesday.

He said the non-combustible alternative products were allowed in many parts of the world as they were banned mostly where the states possessed monopolies. The non-combustible alternatives (NCAs) are for adult smokers who would otherwise continue to smoke or use nicotine (except for nicotine replacement therapy). If smoke-free or non-combustible alternatives are regulated in Pakistan, it can potentially help reduce the number of smokers and annual deaths due to smoking-related diseases by shifting the current smokers to smoke free or non-combustible alternatives, such as e-cigarettes or HTPs as is demonstrated by the countries like UK, Japan and New Zealand.

Presently, there is no ban on the import of non-combustible alternatives (NCAs) in Pakistan. Mostly the ban has been imposed in those countries where the governments in any way are involved in manufacturing process like India. There should be choice given to the consumers as the alternative products could provide less harmful products to them.

“We are not talking about any specific product but awareness should be created that the non-combustible alternative products are those that do not burn tobacco during consumption," he said, adding that it would be a challenge for the cigarette manufacturers to create awareness when advertisements were not allowed under different regulations.

If the government allows us to import such products, we will start from the import and later local manufacturing can be done depending upon the consumption of such products in Pakistan, he said.

He said the non-combustible alternative products are those that do not burn tobacco during consumption. Cigarettes, cigars, and cigarillos are examples of combusted tobacco products, whereas the smokeless alternatives are non-combusted.

When a cigarette is lit, tobacco burns and produces smoke. This generates more than 6,000 chemicals, many of which are harmful. Where there is no burning, smoke is not produced, which in turn should lower the level of harmful chemicals in the aerosol. Of course, this must be scientifically substantiated for each product, he said.

Roman Yazbeck informed that in countries where NCAs/smoke free alternatives have been launched, they have been doing well in improving public health. For example, in Japan cigarette sales fell five percent faster after the introduction of heated tobacco system and the UK has also been reporting alleviation in overall public health due to adult smokers switching over to smoke-free or non-combustible alternative products.