PMI in SmartEx: The Role of Innovation in Transforming the Tobacco Industry
A visionary in revolutionizing the tobacco industry through its portfolio of Reduced-Risk products, and acting on its ambition of convincing all adult smokers who wish to continue smoking to switch to smoke-free products, Philip Morris International (PMI) have recently taken part in SmartEx, the only dedicated Technology & Innovation platform in Lebanon. As part of its participation, Eva Saade Latorre, Technology Research Engineer from PMI’s Science and Innovation team in Switzerland gave a talk on Transformation & Innovation in the Tobacco Industry and namely on PMI’s mindset of harm reduction through the research and development of a diverse portfolio of reduced-risk products.
Building on PMI’s aspirations of having a target of more than 40 million adult smokers switch to smoke-free products in the next few years, and based on PMI’s significant expenditure in the Research & Development sector, Latorre stressed that ever since the beginning of the cigarette manufacturing industry, the concept of smoking has barely changed. Yet, with the advent of science, technology, and innovation within the overall consumer goods industry, PMI embarked on a long-term vision to transform itself gradually towards eventually phasing out cigarettes in favor of products that do not burn tobacco, given that it is common knowledge among scientific circles that combustion is the main cause of smoking-related disease. To this end, PMI currently has 4 product platforms that work towards its mission of harm reduction. Latorre then went on to discuss PMI’s shift in doing business from a firm-centric approach towards a more customer-centric approach and recalled that companies who were more design-centric provided a better user experience to their customers and often outperformed others in financial and business terms.
Underlining PMI’s vision, Latorre detailed the many pillars that the company had to undertake. The latter comprises of having the best-in-class R&D capabilities with a portfolio of over 4,300 patents granted worldwide and a pipeline of over 6,000 pending patents. It also includes PMI’s vast R&D network present all over the world, and its leverage of various skills in different fields such as Neuroscience, Flavor Engineering as well as Process Engineering. Complementing what proceded, Latorre emphasized on PMI’s commitment to transparency through 3rd party reviewed studies, having a dedicated website to their science (PMIscience.com), in addition to independent verifications from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Public Health England among other international agencies. The Technology Research Engineer culminated her talk by guiding the attendees through the innovation journey that starts with insights and ends up being a full-fledged product that has the potential of changing the lives of adult smokers who would otherwise continue smoking.
Through its relentless drive of seeking what is better for adult smokers,, Philip Morris International has long been a catalyst for innovation. By empowering their people into becoming entrepreneurs and by making such ideas visible and accessible throughout the organization, Philip Morris hopes to maintain its leadership position in an era where innovation presents itself as the lifeline of businesses’ sustainability.