Fox News is running a story about the possible investment opportunities of buying stock in Phillip Morris International, largely due to the company’s commitment to reduced-risk tobacco products. According to the article, the rise in popularity of e-cigs and vaping technology has led the Big Tobacco conglomerate to conduct numerous clinic trials in recent years related to the long-term health effects of cigarette alternatives. And during a recent stockholders’ event, Phillip Morris was witnessed actively encouraging investors to buy more stock based on this new trend.
For the vaping community, this might be decidedly good news. If the old adage Follow the money is true, then Wall Street’s interest in a fledgling industry that is currently under fire by the FDA, the CDC and other fronts might be the secret weapon that it needs to fight excessive federal oversight. After all, politicians are far more likely to think twice before angering the U.S. financial community that spends millions of dollars annually on their re-election campaigns.
Phillip Morris: Walking a fine line
During a recent investor day presentation, Fox Business reports that Philip Morris Chief Scientific Officer Manuel Peitsch talked about the company’s commitment to continue promoting reduce-risk products. He spoke specifically of their iQOS heat-not-burn technology and their E-Vapor product line of Platform e-cigs. And while Peitsch states that their research shows a significant decrease in negative health effects as compared to conventional smoking, he was also very careful not to admit that e-cigs and vaping devices are 100% safe.
“(Most consumers) expressed the correct understanding of the tested modified risk communications as well as that iQOS is not without risk and is not an alternative to quitting…Our aspirational goal is to demonstrate that our reduced-risk products have a risk-reduction profile that approaches that of cessation”
This is just legal semantics. Manufacturers and retailers alike are living in hear of being sued over “exploding e-cigs.” In fact, four local vape shops in Washington State were recently sued by a combination of plaintiffs who allegedly suffered physical injuries after purchasing vaping equipment from their establishments. Phillip Morris is no different. Even if these explosions occur because of poor consumer maintenance or safety practices, the reputation of the vaping industry, and by extension Phillip Morris, can take a hit.
Philip Morris has made billions of dollars from tobacco cigarettes, but it also seems to be recognizing the need to change with the times. As sales of conventional tobacco products continue to decline, the company needs to calm stockholders. What better way than to boast of their commitment to a safer, healthier, product? By taking an early stand on the side of e-cigs and vaping, perhaps Phillip Morris is hoping to set themselves apart from other Big Tobacco stocks. The question is: Will it work?
Article Credit: Matt Rowland