Tobacco giant Philip Morris International is to cease the sale of Marlboro cigarettes in Britain within a decade, its chief executive, Jacek Olczak, has told a national newspaper.
The firm is making the move in line with the UK's wider ambition to stamp out smoking by 2030.
"I think in the UK, ten years from now maximum, you can completely solve the problem of smoking," Olczak told the Daily Mail, adding that the move would require the help of governments and regulators.
Marlboro 'To Disappear'
Doing its part, Olczak said the Marlboro brand "will disappear" from British store shelves along with its other brands, ending a more than 100-year association with the country.
Olczak, who has embarked on a more aggressive strategy to diversify the world's largest tobacco company away from cigarettes, had previously called on Britain to treat cigarettes like petrol cars and ban them in 10 years time.
The $153 billion-dollar company sells Marlboro cigarettes outside the United States, after it split off from parent company Altria in 2008. Altria sells Marlboro in the US.
Bid For Drug-Maker
Earlier this month, Philip Morris launched a £1.05 billion bid for British asthma drug-maker Vectura as part of its "evolution into a broader healthcare and wellness company," that will also see it get more than 50% of its revenue from smoke-free products and at least $1 billion from products beyond nicotine by 2025.
The deal has received backlash and has spurred a reaction from the World Health Organization, which called such healthcare partnerships by so-called 'Big Tobacco' as undermining its progress on controlling its "deadly products."
Last December, Moody's issued a 'stable outlook' for the tobacco sector in 2021, following the challenges of the coronavirus last year.