• CEO Andre Calantzopoulos spoke at the Concordia Annual Summit
  • Calantzopoulos said support from government and society is key
  • He claimed political agenda and ideology mislead the cause to end smoking

Philip Morris International (PMI) CEO said Thursday that cigarette sales could end within 10 to 15 years in many countries with "the right regulatory encouragement and support from civil society." The Marlboro maker's push for smoke-free heated tobacco products was being slowed down by "political agendas and ideology," he said.

The company, which plans to replace its iconic cigarettes with new products that release tobacco flavors and niotine by heating rather than burning, reported a 11.4% drop in cigarette shipment volume in the first half of 2020, while heated tobacco unit shipment rose 33.4%.

"A future in which cigarettes are obsolete is within reach," Andre Calantzopoulos said at a virtual Concordia Annual Summit which brought together world leaders in business and governance. "In fact, with the right regulatory encouragement and support from civil society, we believe cigarette sales can end within 10 to 15 years in many countries."

Michigan is giving away free Nicotine gum, patches, and lozenges starting now until the end of September. For smokers trying to quit, now is the perfect time to do so. FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images

Calantzopoulos said innovation and research have led to the creation of products that can help adults quit smoking, but public health organizations and some agenda-setting NGOs were building ideological resistance to such initiatives.

"These organizations allow disinformation to appear as legitimate science. They put dogma before data, and they expend more energy on attacking a company than on helping the human beings who should be at the center of the debate."

He said more than 11.2 million people have switched to the company's main smoke-free product and stopped smoking. The company had set an aim to get 40 million adults to stop smoking and switch to healthier alternatives by 2025.