Vectura is now part of the tobacco industry and must be treated accordingly.
(New York, September 16, 2021) — Philip Morris International (PMI)’s purchase of Vectura, a maker of inhaled medicines and devices, may serve the public relations needs of the world’s largest cigarette company, but it’s bad news for health.
Ignoring the concerns of the public health community and patients who use Vectura’s products, PMI bought its way into a market where it has no place. Vectura’s products treat diseases which can be caused by PMI’s main product, cigarettes. There is now even more incentive for PMI to keep selling its deadly products, profiting twice over as it also sells medicine to consumers made sick by its addictive products.
Buying a health business does not make PMI a health business. This is a company that allegedly worked to bypass health authorities to subvert a global health treaty and sought to exploit the UK’s menthol cigarette ban. It has been found advertising cigarettes opposite schools and running marketing and sponsorship campaigns (including Formula One sponsorship) that appeal to young people. There are ongoing allegations of complicity in tobacco smuggling, with PMI agreeing to a $1.25 billion settlement with the EU and a current PMI representative in Africa is reported to be linked with tobacco smuggling.
A recent STOP analysis suggests that the company is continuing to create addiction through its electronic product, IQOS — primarily in countries where smoking rates are falling thanks to strong health policies. The company’s survival depends on hooking a new generation of users, including youth, to products that are harmful and addictive. What’s more, over 50% of the people interested in IQOS are those who have never smoked, suggesting it may be a gateway product for nicotine addiction and potential subsequent cigarette use.
It’s no wonder that some Vectura investors reported being uncomfortable with PMI’s involvement. Several leading investors who had shares in Vectura when PMI launched its bid have a policy against holding tobacco stocks or a broader commitment to responsible investment and may have been compelled to divest.
Vectura may be a crown jewel of PMI’s PR campaign to gain legitimacy, but make no mistake: Vectura is now effectively a part of the tobacco industry and may be subject to policies that exclude the tobacco industry. Hence, it should be treated as the tobacco industry and vested interests, with restrictions on meetings and interactions with Vectura and measures to avoid conflicts of interest, applied as per the implementation guidelines of Article 5.3 of an international treaty that the U.K. is a party to: the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Research institutions with clear ethical standards should no longer work with Vectura, nor scientific journals publish its research.
PMI continues to profit from selling cigarettes, while governments, health systems and consumers pay the price. Vectura helping PMI profit twice over only worsens that injustice.
Please contact the STOP press office for more information or to speak to a STOP spokesperson.
About STOP (Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products)
STOP is a global tobacco industry watchdog whose mission is to expose the tobacco industry strategies and tactics that undermine public health. STOP is funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and comprised of a partnership between The Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath, The Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control (GGTC), the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) and Vital Strategies. For more information, visit exposetobacco.org.