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“There is a fundamental conflict of interest in the business of selling tobacco and the business of treating its deadly health effects.”

Statement from Dr. Neil Schluger, Senior Advisor for Science at Vital Strategies on Philip Morris International’s £1.1bn takeover of UK inhaler maker Vectura

September 16, 2021 (New York) – “Phillip Morris International’s £1.1bn takeover of Vectura, a UK inhaler maker used to treat asthma and COPD, is a blow to public health.

This year alone, heart attacks, asthma and COPD will be just some of the ways that tobacco use will kill 8 million people. The acquisition of Vectura gives Philip Morris a hand in the research, development, and commercialization of the medical treatments that their harmful products create.  

PMI lauds the Vectura takeover as part of an effort to invest in ‘new areas,’ including the healthcare space. Let’s be clear: These acquisitions are part of their efforts to protect their business, not protect our health. PMI alone produces 600 billion cigarettes each year and is even bidding for a new cigarette factory license in Egypt. In fact, in their Q2 Earnings Call, Philip Morris International were happy to reassure investors of a “recovery of the combustible business” in several markets.  

We firmly oppose this decision by Vectura’s stakeholders. We can’t let medicine – with its underlying ethic of “do no harm” – become part of Big Tobacco’s harm production empire. There is a fundamental conflict of interest in the business of selling tobacco and the business of treating its deadly health effects. Medical and public health professionals must remain vigilant and do our jobs to protect people’s health.” 

About Dr. Neil Schluger 

Dr. Neil Schluger is the Senior Advisor for Science at the global health organization, Vital Strategies, and is the Barbara and William Rosenthal Chair of the Department of Medicine at New York Medical College (NYMC) School of Medicine and director of medicine at Westchester Medical Center (WMC).  

About Vital Strategies 

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. Our programs reach into 73 countries and help prevent death and illness from noncommunicable disease, reduce harm caused by environmental factors, and support cities as engines for public health. To find out more, please visit www.vitalstrategies.org or Twitter @VitalStrat.  

Media Contact 

Christina Honeysett, Vital Strategies: choneysett@vitalstrategies.org; +1-914-424-3356 

Ally Davis, Vital Strategies: adavis@vitalstrategies.org; +1-516-205-4203