Philip Morris goes “beyond nicotine”

US tobacco giant Philip Morris International has agreed to pay £1bn for British inhaler specialist Vectura.

US tobacco giant Philip Morris International “wants you to think it’s a healthcare company now”, says Rich Duprey on The Motley Fool. In February, the Marlboro cigarette owner launched its “beyond nicotine” initiative, which plans to “generate over half of its total net revenue from smoke-free products by 2025”. 

Now it has agreed to pay £1bn for British inhaler specialist Vectura. The group’s devices have been used to help bring “13 inhaled medicines to market”. Philip Morris says it is evolving into “a broader healthcare and wellness company”, but critics spy “a wolf in sheep’s clothing”.  

No wonder, says Helen Thomas in the Financial Times. Transitioning into cigarette alternatives is one thing, but Vectura makes most of its money from treating smoking-related diseases. It is as if BP announced a move “into flood prevention and forest-fire management”. What’s more, Vectura’s links to the tobacco industry could hamper its ability “to attract talent... and develop products”.  

The takeover could also limit how much the NHS is allowed to deal with Vectura, adds Alistair Osborne in The Times. Britain’s membership of the World Health Organisation’s Convention on Tobacco Control commits it to reducing the industry’s influence in public health policymaking. 

The “conflicts of interest” opened up by a firm that “kills people for profit” getting into the healthcare game are “myriad”. “Calls for the government to stub out takeovers are too frequent lately. But this one really does belong in the ashtray.” 

Recommended

Why are energy prices going up so much?
Energy

Why are energy prices going up so much?

UK energy prices are going through the roof, with electricity the most expensive in Europe and gas at its highest for 13 years. Saloni Sardana explain…
16 Sep 2021
What really causes inflation? Here’s what prices since 1970 tell us
Inflation

What really causes inflation? Here’s what prices since 1970 tell us

As UK inflation hits 3.2%, Dominic Frisby compares the cost of living 50 years ago with that of today, and explains how debt drives prices higher.
15 Sep 2021
Should you defer your pension and stay in work?
Pensions

Should you defer your pension and stay in work?

The pros and cons of deferring your pension and staying in employment beyond 66 are finely balanced.
15 Sep 2021
I wish I knew what a marginal tax rate was, but I’m too embarrassed to ask
Too embarrassed to ask

I wish I knew what a marginal tax rate was, but I’m too embarrassed to ask

Your marginal tax rate is simply the tax rate you pay on each extra pound of income you earn. Here's how that works.
14 Sep 2021

Most Popular

Should investors be worried about stagflation?
US Economy

Should investors be worried about stagflation?

The latest US employment data has raised the ugly spectre of “stagflation” – weak growth and high inflation. John Stepek looks at what’s going on and …
6 Sep 2021
Two shipping funds to buy for steady income
Investment trusts

Two shipping funds to buy for steady income

Returns from owning ships are volatile, but these two investment trusts are trying to make the sector less risky.
7 Sep 2021
How you can profit from the power of the grey pound
Share tips

How you can profit from the power of the grey pound

Higher life expectancy and surging asset prices have proved a boon for the baby-boomer generation, which has accumulated vast wealth. Younger generati…
10 Sep 2021