Tobacco giant Philip Morris to end cigarette sales in UK in next decade

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Camel, Winston, Parliament, Marlboro Red, Marlboro Gold, Marlboro Menthol, American Spirit, Pall Mall, Newport and Winston cigarette brands manufactured by Philip Morris (Altria), R. J. Reynolds and Lorillard, photographed in Washington, DC, on April 29, 2013. Photo Credit: Kristoffer Tripplaar/ Sipa USA
Marlboro cigarettes will disappear from Britain's shelves in plans revealed by the CEO of Philip Morris. (PA)

Tobacco giant Philip Morris will stop selling cigarettes in the UK within the next 10 years, its chief executive has revealed.

Jacek Olczak said that the plans were part of the company's drive to phase out traditional cigarette smoking.

Smokers will instead be encouraged to switch to modern alternatives, such as e-cigarettes or heated tobacco devices, which are considered less harmful.

"I want to allow this company to leave smoking behind," Olczak told The Mail on Sunday.

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"I think in the UK, 10 years from now maximum, you can completely solve the problem of smoking."

Philip Morris' best-selling brand Marlboro will be included in the move, meaning the cigarettes will no longer be available on shop shelves in Britain.

"It will disappear," Olczak said. "The first choice for consumers is they should quit smoking.

"But if they don't, the second best choice is to let them switch to the better alternatives."

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In a video shared on the firm's website, Olczak said: "Our objective is to fully leave smoking combustible cigarettes behind to become one day a smoke-free company."

"We also take it very seriously as the leader in the industry," he added, saying they're striving to"transform the entire industry".

"To achieve that, we need collaborations with the governments, with the regulators, with the NGOs and the public at large," he said.

It comes after the UK government announced plans in 2019 for England to go "smoke-free" by 2030, which includes reducing the prevalence of cigarette smoking among different age groups.

In Scotland, the target is 2034, while Northern Ireland and Wales have not yet set a date.

In practice, “smoke-free” involves reaching 5% average adult smoking prevalence, according to the UK Parliament website

The government has acknowledged that this goal will be “extremely challenging” to achieve, the website says. 

Over the last 35 years, smoking rates in Britain have halved with currently around 15% of UK adults smoke cigarettes, according to Cancer Research UK.

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