Tobacco group Philip Morris International has reportedly said it plans to stop selling cigarettes in the U.K. in 10 years’ time.
It could bring an end to the cigarette maker’s flagship Marlboro brand and comes two years after the U.K. government said it wanted to end smoking in England by 2030.
“I want to allow this company to leave smoking behind,” Philip Morris CEO Jacek Olczak said in an interview with the Mail on Sunday. “I think in the U.K., 10 years from now maximum, you can completely solve the problem of smoking.”
When asked whether that meant the company would stop selling traditional cigarettes in the U.K. within that timeframe, Olczak replied: ’“Absolutely.”
The WHO describes the tobacco epidemic as “one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced.”
Campaign groups have highlighted that Philip Morris International has issued similar statements in the past only for very little to change.
They also argue that tobacco giants, which have a long history of denying the health risks of smoking, are advocating themselves as part of the transition to a smoke-free world while also continuing to sell and promote cigarettes globally.
Philip Morris International’s former Chief Executive André Calantzopoulos said in 2016 that he hoped the company would stop selling cigarettes entirely.
A spokesperson for the company was not immediately available to comment when contacted by CNBC on Monday.
The World Health Organization describes the tobacco epidemic as “one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced.” The United Nations health agency says smoking, including second-hand, kills more than 8 million people per year.