Article Text

Analysis of Philip Morris International’s ‘aspirational’ target for its 2025 cigarette shipments
  1. John Mehegan1,
  2. Allen Gallagher1,
  3. Sherif Elmitwalli1,
  4. Richard Edwards2,
  5. Anna Gilmore1
  1. 1Department for Health, University of Bath, Bath, UK
  2. 2Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to Dr John Mehegan, Department for Health, University of Bath, Bath, UK; jm3151{at}bath.ac.uk

Abstract

Background Philip Morris International (PMI) claims to be transforming and has committed to a ‘smoke-free’ future. In 2020, it announced an ‘aspirational’ target for reduced cigarette shipments by 2025.

Methods PMI cigarette shipment data are taken from PMI quarterly financial reports 2008–2023. Trends in these data before and after the 2020 announcement are analysed using linear regression, and auto regressive integrated moving average and error, trend, seasonal time-series models to assess if PMI’s 2025 target would be met on pre-existing trends, and if the trend changed after the announcement. These trends are also compared with the global retail market for cigarettes, using sales data from Euromonitor.

Results Findings were consistent across all three models. PMI’s shipment target of 550 billion cigarette sticks by 2025 would readily have been met given pre-existing shipment trends. Following the 2020 announcement, the decline in PMI cigarette shipments stalled markedly with a statistically significant change in trend (p<0.001). The current and projected trend to 2025 is consistent with no further decline in cigarette volumes, meaning PMI is unlikely to hit its target. This mirrors a global pattern in which declines in cigarette sales have stalled since 2020.

Conclusions PMI’s 2025 target was not ‘aspirational’ but highly conservative—it would have been met based on pre-existing trends in declining cigarette shipments. Yet PMI will nonetheless fail to meet that target providing evidence it is not transforming. Stalling of the decline of PMI and global cigarette sales raises significant concerns about progress in global tobacco control.

  • Economics
  • Global health
  • Tobacco industry
  • Surveillance and monitoring

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request. Data may be obtained from a third party and are not publicly available. Data from commercial databases are used under licence and cannot be shared by the authors. All other data are available on reasonable request.

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.

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Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request. Data may be obtained from a third party and are not publicly available. Data from commercial databases are used under licence and cannot be shared by the authors. All other data are available on reasonable request.

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Footnotes

  • X @AllenGallagher_

  • Contributors AGilmore and RE conceived the idea for the study. JM acquired the data, and JM and SE designed and performed the data analysis. AGallagher supervised the work, and JM and AGallagher drafted the manuscript. All authors reviewed and contributed to revisions of the paper. JM is responsible for the overall content as guarantor.

  • Funding JM, AGallagher, SE and AGilmore all acknowledge the support of Bloomberg Philanthropies Stop Tobacco Organizations and Products funding.

  • Competing interests No, there are no competing interests.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.