According to the Australian media newsGP reported on July 5, Philip Morris International (PMI) issued a marketing manual in Australian pharmacies, the manual is “to introduce customers to the offer of electronic cigarette product VEEV.” According to the brochure, VEEV can be used as a smoking cessation tool, and PMI will provide 80% of the total profit from sales to pharmacies with which it has a supply agreement.
The contact with PMI is only visible in a single reference in small print at the bottom of the manual.
Under Australian law, the federal government has banned the import of all over-the-counter e-cigarettes into the country and completely banned single-use e-cigarettes, which can only be purchased at pharmacies with a prescription from a general practitioner.
According to the Smoking Cessation Guidelines issued by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), the use of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool is a last-line treatment. Professor Nick Zwar, chair of the expert advisory group on Smoking Cessation Guidelines, said GPS needed to understand the context of the products they were prescribing. “I don’t think many doctors want to be associated with tobacco companies.” Nick Zwart said.
Nick Zwart questioned whether Big tobacco companies are qualified to offer prescription products for therapeutic purposes. “They have historically sought to sell nicotine-containing products, including combustible tobacco, to maximize profits, but at great cost to human health and the economy,” he said. He argues that getting tobacco companies involved in products for therapeutic use is a huge conflict of interest.
Simon Chapman, emeritus professor of public health at the University of Sydney, said PMI has been keen to sell e-cigarettes as a “consumer product” around the world, and since legal sales are now only allowed in Australia for those with a prescription, they are looking to use the law to their advantage – by providing 80 per cent of e-cigarette profits to doctors. Obviously they want to beat all their competitors.
Simon Chapman believes that if PMI is successful, the prescription program implemented by the government is likely to fail, and Australia will re-liberalize the purchase of e-cigarettes, achieving the open consumer model that PMI wants.
When contacted about the incident, a PMI spokesperson said PMI was working to comply with the new law.
A PMI spokesperson said the RACGP was involved in the development of guidelines for prescription e-cigarettes, but they criticized the involvement of a responsible operator like PMI despite the fact that many other companies are fueling a black market for e-cigarettes.
“We are calling on the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners to join us in our efforts to stamp out the black market in e-cigarettes and ensure that those who choose to quit smoking via e-cigarettes do so by using legal and regulated products such as VEEV, in consultation with their GP.” “The spokesman said.
PMI has hired a company to distribute sales and marketing materials to pharmacies, many of which have signed direct deals. The media contacted the dispensaries to send out interviews, but none responded by deadline.
【1】Big Tobacco’s new push into pharmacy vapes