TakeAPart: Philip Morris International in New Zealand

Philip Morris International is exploiting the COVID-19 crisis to sell its deadly products in New Zealand

Tobacco companies as well as tobacco and e-cigarette industry associations are shamefully exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to boost corporate brands and to sell deadly products.

Tobacco companies will stop at nothing to sell more products, even if it means capitalizing on a pandemic. Never has it been more important for the public and policymakers to see the tobacco industry for what it is: an industry of death and disease. Make sure decision-makers and public health advocates know how Philip Morris International is exploiting the COVID-19 crisis to promote their products in New Zealand.

How Philip Morris International is exploiting the COVID-19 crisis

The coronavirus attacks the lungs and behaviors that weaken the lungs put individuals at greater risk. The harmful impact of smoking on the lungs is well-documented, and there is a growing body of evidence that e-cigarette use (vaping) can also harm lung health. Unsurprisingly there is mounting concern among leading public health organizations and experts that smokers and e-cigarette users may be at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Despite this concern, since the COVID-19 crisis began, in many countries, the tobacco industry has been found to be using references to COVID-19 (explicitly mentioning the virus and/or using references such as “quarantine” or “stay at home”) to market their products. Promotional campaigns have also been observed to offer free delivery, and contest prizes that encourage sharing tobacco product marketing campaigns online. Tobacco product promotional campaigns using COVID-19 references have been observed online, on social media, and through mobile text messages.

In New Zealand, evidence has been found showing Philip Morris International is offering special COVID-19 sales promotions for tobacco products.

The increased risk COVID-19 poses to smokers and vapers makes it more important than ever for policymakers around the world to adopt strong tobacco control measures – particularly in low- and middle-income countries where more than 80 percent of the world’s smokers live.

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control defines the policies needed to drastically reduce the devastating global burden of tobacco use. These policies include bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship that would help address tobacco industry efforts to capitalize on today’s COVID-19 pandemic.

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