Envisaging a ‘smoke-free’ world: An exploratory study of Philip Morris International’s strategic positioning in Australia
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Collaboration for Evidence, Research and Impact in Public Health, School of Population Health, Curtin University, Perth, Australia
School of Population Health, Curtin University, Perth, Australia
European Centre for Environment and Human Health, College of Medicine and Health, University of Exeter, Exeter, United Kingdom
School of Management and Marketing, Curtin University, Perth, Australia
Publication date: 2021-09-02
Corresponding author
Kahlia McCausland
Collaboration for Evidence, Research and Impact in Public Health, School of Population Health, Curtin University, Perth, Australia
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2021;19(Suppl 1):A64
While there has been a gradual reduction in combustible cigarette smoking rates across the developed world, there has been a sharp increase in the popularity and usage of e-cigarettes. Transnational tobacco corporations, including Philip Morris International (PMI), have developed their own e-cigarette and heat-not-burn (HNB) products to retain a foothold over their existing market share.

To use framing theory to critically analyse corporate communication materials from leading international tobacco company, PMI, and identify the prevailing themes used to challenge Australia’s existing e-cigarette regulations and garner public support for broader access to nicotine-containing e-cigarette products.

This project utilised a case study research design to examine PMI and the complex interactions between the tobacco industry, policymakers and public opinion. Inclusion criteria for data collection were PMI’s communication materials - websites, social media, commissioned reports, submissions and transcripts to Australian e-cigarette inquiries - published between January 2018 and July 2019 relating to PMI’s e-cigarettes, HNB products or ‘smoke-free’ transformation.

Seven themes: 1) Tobacco harm reduction 2) PMI as a ‘good corporate citizen 3) Lobbying Australian Government to legalise nicotine-containing e-cigarettes 4) Advocating for smokers freedom of choice 5) Science and innovation 6) Improved public health outcomes 7) Justifying the presence of nicotine in reduced-risk products; and 19 subthemes emerged from the data.

Developing strong, evidence-based, counter-arguments is critical to challenge PMI’s lobbying of Australian politicians, legislators and the public. These counter-arguments also equip legislators with knowledge and evidence to ensure existing e-cigarette regulations remain unchallenged by the interests of PMI and Big Tobacco in general. The public health sector can, therefore, use these findings to inform a decisive stance about these products and provide vital evidence-based information to the public about the unknown nature of their health risks, including the rationale behind the precautionary principle.

None to declare.

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