Charting a smoke-free future

Duncan Cunningham, External Affairs Director for the UK & Ireland at Philip Morris International, advocates for science-backed solutions to help adult smokers switch to less harmful alternatives, and calls for collaboration with government to accelerate the transition to a smoke-free nation

When I took on this role just over a year ago, I was worried that the UK had run out of ideas on how to help the 6.4 million1 adult smokers leave cigarettes behind. What a difference a year makes. Finally, policymakers, media and the rest of civil society are talking about how to tackle the problem of cigarettes.

You might be asking why Philip Morris International (PMI) has a voice in this national conversation? My answer is very simple: how can we expect to make any real change to behaviours and choices without involving manufacturers like PMI?

We remain the only global tobacco company to have publicly committed to phasing out cigarettes. We support the government’s efforts to create a smoke-free nation by its stated aim of 2030. But as it stands, this target will be missed if we do not work together.

This is the moment for the government to be more ambitious and focus on delivering a smoke-free future by using all the science available to encourage adult smokers to abandon cigarettes. A smoke-free future by 2030 will only be achieved by leveraging the potential of the full range of better alternatives and through appropriate regulation.

Firstly, we must work together to ensure that smokers, who do not quit, continue to have access to the full range of less harmful smoke-free alternatives. Vaping has made the UK a world leader in reducing smoking rates, however, this trend is slowing. Research shows that in 2023, whilst 73% of current adult smokers in Great Britain reported having tried vaping, it clearly hasn’t worked for all of them as there remain 6.4 million adult smokers.2

We are clear that smoke-free products exist to help adult smokers find a better alternative to cigarettes. We agree that these products are not for minors and should never end up in their hands. It is without doubt that disposable vapes with youth-appealing flavours, named, and marketed irresponsibly, have no role to play in the government’s plans to achieve a smoke-free society, and it is right that the government is taking action to tackle disposable vapes.

We all agree that securing a better future for the next generation is the right thing to do. We want to work with government to ensure that adult smokers can make informed choices as we progress towards our shared goal of a smoke-free future.


Duncan Duncan Cunningham

Duncan Cunningham

External Affairs Director for the UK & Ireland

Philip Morris International


  1. Office for National Statistics - Adult smoking habits in the UK: 2022
  2. ASH Smokefree GB Adult Surveys 2014-2023. Unweighted base: Adult current smokers (2014-2023)
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