A Marketing Role that Could Change the Course of Public Health

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Stefano Volpetti is a non-smoker and self-described health freak, so he wasn’t sure what to think about working for the company best known for making cigarettes. Now President, Smoke-Free Products, and Chief Consumer Officer of Philip Morris International, he is honored to cover the important role of smoke-free alternatives for adult smokers during the company’s historic transformation.

“Working to change the trajectory of public health has given me the greatest sense of purpose in my professional life so far,” says Volpetti. “Every day that my colleagues and I do a good job at Philip Morris International (PMI), we know that we are taking a step toward ending the sale of cigarettes globally.”

Volpetti joins ITWC CMO Fon Annan for the February 2023 installment of CMO Talks, a podcast series designed by ITWC to demonstrate strategies for gaining a competitive edge through the intersection of brand-building and technology. Their discussion focused on the role of marketing as it relates to offering scientifically proven alternatives to smoking to adult smokers.

the future is smoke-free

Volpetti, an expert in consumer-focused marketing and business model change, points out that his division, smoke-free products, currently accounts for about 30 percent of PMI’s business, with that number expected to reach 50 percent by 2025. At some point in the near future, he estimates, very few people will remember that PMI was once a cigarette company.

In response to a question from Annan, Volpetti defined the top objective for his department as providing access to smoke-free alternatives for smokers who would otherwise continue to smoke. He explains that by taking combustion out of the equation, these products eliminate 95% of the harmful chemicals released from burning tobacco.
something for everyone
Volpetti is excited when sharing the PMI mission with Annan. “The company has been very clear about the importance of eliminating cigarettes; With smoke-free options, we now have a portfolio of products that meet the different taste, pricing and habit preferences of adult smokers around the world. “It is very important for us to support the smoker in the transition journey.”

The new category is a team effort

He is equally vocal that although creating an entirely new category is first and foremost a consumer-focused exercise, it is also key to working closely with third parties to provide access to information for adult smokers around the world. can affect. comes when regulators, manufacturers and retailers work together,” he says.

making the world a better place

A major source of pride for PMI is that smoke-free alternatives have the potential to change the global trajectory of public health.

Encouragingly, there is real-world evidence suggesting smoke-free products can have a positive impact on public health. In fact, a peer-reviewed scientific study looked at hospitalization rates for two serious health conditions in Japan: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and heart disease from 2013-2020. The study found that after the introduction of smoke-free products in Japan, there was a significant reduction in the number of hospitalizations from these diseases. As these studies have limitations, PMI continues to build on this encouraging data with further long-term epidemiological studies.

For Stefano Volpetti, it’s clearly a step in the right direction, and he would like to replicate it in more countries. “This is a product that makes a tangible positive difference to smokers around the world,” he says. “The more regulations that allow us access to legal-age smokers, the more progress we’ll make.”

The podcast ends with Volpetti’s advice – advice now enshrined in PMI’s approach: If you don’t smoke, don’t start; If you smoke, quit; And if you don’t quit, switch to a smoke-free alternative.

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