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More public discourse, better options

If you keep telling people something untrue, loud and long enough, they’re apt to believe it. – Mank

Mangkokolum prefers his shots of bilog or quatro cantos with just calamansi even without ice – neither shaken nor stirred, thank you.

Which should just be the case: Take your distilled spirit anyway you want it.

The thing is, you don’t get a great gin by just boiling aromatic plants alone.

“More than 21 different botanicals, including herbs, juniper berry, and spices which undergo a classic triple-distillation process.”

This is how a world-famous gin supposedly acquires its “purity and its excellent flavor”.

Imagine if we apply the same meticulous process to finding cures to everyday problems.

The shoving, yanking, shaking, and stirring of ideas and thoughts in the laundromat of social discourse can churn out “a pure and excellent” slate of solutions or remedies.

Yes, a simultaneous, spirited debate, an exuberant, unfettered talkfest, a more robust public discussion.

And make it inclusive, too, by letting in all stakeholders in the quest for better alternative consumer products that uphold public health and benefit society.

Speaking at the virtual opening of the 27th National PR Congress of the Public Relations Society of the Philippines, Philip Morris International vice president for market activation and support Tommaso di Giovanni stressed the importance of sustaining the debate on smoke-free products to “accelerate the pace of change” for all.

PMI, he said, has for over a decade started churning out better alternative products that promote public health driven by science and technology.

“Traditionally we’ve always been very shy of public conversation, but we realized it was time to go out, be public, be vocal, and advocate for change,” Di Giovanni pointed out.

He said PMI saw the need to open the debates and engagements with government, academe, non-government organizations, and the scientific community because of “misinformation, misconceptions, and skepticism” over heated tobacco products and e-cigarettes.

“It’s a rallying cry for the government. It’s a rallying cry for all those who have a role to play — public health, academia, NGOs, the scientific communities,” he pointed out.

Taking off from the PR Congress’ theme “Transcend,” the PMI executive highlighted to participating public relations professionals the key role of “communications” to the company’s goal to transcend — “rise above” — to find solutions for things not yet known or thought of.

“It’s the story of our company, and the issues related to smoking and what we’re doing to provide additional creative solutions to those problems. It’s no secret … everyone knows that smoking causes diseases and is addictive… it’s been known for decades.”

And PMI has decided to address this, yet “the biggest challenge is misinformation” because “the vast majority of people don’t know and don’t understand the value of those alternatives because they haven’t been informed”.

Hence, the global company ramped up its communications campaign over the last six years with its scientists going out there to talk in global and local conferences and in media about what PMI is doing in terms of product development and scientific assessments of its smoke-free products.

“They’re everywhere possible to engage in dialogue exactly to accelerate change. Every time we get an inquiry from the media, we answer with pleasure because it is an opportunity to have that discussion to inform people to let the world know what we’re doing and to drive positive change. And it’s something, believe me, that in our company is unprecedented,” he said.

PMI has invested over $8 billion in research and development, and scientific substantiation to manufacture better alternatives to cigarettes with 400 scientists at work and over 350 peer-reviewed scientific publications.

Today, Di Giovanni noted that 99 percent of PMI’s R&D budget and 76 percent of commercial expenditure “are behind this huge effort to transform an industry into something that is much better, and we hope that it would not only be our company but the whole industry and the whole world that is behind it”.

And since government policies are key to effecting change, Di Giovanni stressed the need for legislators to be adequately informed: “How can you legislate something that you do not know?”

HTPs or e-cigs and the science behind them did not exist in the 80s, he noted.

But PMI, he said, had “made great progress,” noting that almost 18 million smokers worldwide have switched to HTPs, and 72 percent of whom have abandoned cigarettes completely.

PMI has a line of smoke-free products led by IQOS, an electrically-heated tobacco system.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration released on July 7, 2020 the authorization to market IQOS as a Modified Risk Tobacco Product with modified exposure claims.

Last January, the US FDA released the premarket tobacco product application for IQOS 3, confirming that it is “appropriate for the protection of public health” and authorized its sale in the United States.

PMFTC Inc., the local affiliate of PMI, opened its IQOS stores in Metro Manila last year. The company’s goal is to replace cigarettes with smoke-free products as soon as possible.

“We decided that we had to take a much more active role out there to challenge those misconceptions, to provoke a debate because otherwise, change would be too slow, and we have a responsibility to do that because you have better products you need to give to smokers,” Di Giovanni stressed, citing nicotine which most think is the cause of diseases.

He corrected the mistaken notion by explaining that it is the burning of tobacco in smoking which produces harmful compounds that cause diseases.

“When you eliminate the burning, you can do something that’s much better than cigarette. And this is what we did, we started working at products that do not burn and, therefore, generate significantly lower levels of harmful compounds,” he said.

Di Giovanni cited a statement of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in the United Kingdom that “nicotine is addictive and it’s not the primary cause of smoking-related diseases”.

Thus, he said, PMI has the duty to provide adult smokers who continue to use cigarettes a better option. The World Health Organization estimated smokers at over one billion worldwide.

Behold God’s glory and seek His mercy.

Pause and pray, people.

Publication Source :    People's Journal