Philip Morris says it might cease promoting cigarettes within the UK

A pack of Philip Morris International Inc. Marlboro Gold cigarettes seen in a tobacco shop.

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LONDON – Tobacco giant Philip Morris International has reportedly announced that it will cease selling cigarettes in the UK in 10 years.

It could end the cigarette maker’s flagship brand, Marlboro, and comes two years after the UK government announced that it would end smoking in England by 2030.

“I want to allow this company to quit smoking,” said Jacek Olczak, CEO of Philip Morris, in an interview with The Mail on Sunday. “I think in the UK, in ten years or less, you can completely solve the smoking problem.”

When asked if this meant the company would stop selling traditional cigarettes in the UK within that period, Olczak replied, “Absolutely.”

Campaign groups have highlighted that Philip Morris International has made similar statements in the past, only that very little has changed.

They also argue that tobacco giants, who have long denied the health risks of smoking, are campaigning as part of the transition to a smoke-free world while selling and promoting cigarettes worldwide.

Former Philip Morris International CEO André Calantzopoulos said in 2016 he hoped the company would stop selling cigarettes entirely.

A company spokesman was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC on Monday.

The World Health Organization describes the tobacco epidemic as “one of the greatest public health threats the world has ever faced”. According to the United Nations Health Authority, more than 8 million people die from smoking each year, including secondhand smoke.

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