German Politician Torsten Albig Joins Philip Morris International, Advocates for Reduced-Risk Tobacco Products

Recently, according to the German news website Tagesschau, German politician Torsten Albig has joined Philip Morris International (PMI) as the head of its external affairs department for its German subsidiary.

Joining the tobacco industry amidst controversy, Albig previously served as the mayor of Kiel, Germany, from 2009 to 2012, and later as the governor of Schleswig-Holstein for six years. After leaving politics, he worked as the head of a representative office for the German postal company, DHL. In 2021, he joined the German Postal Industry Association.

Upon his announcement of joining PMI Germany, Albig stated that his goal is to support the company’s transformation from a traditional tobacco producer to a provider of reduced-risk products. He mentioned PMI’s heavily promoted heated tobacco product, IQOS, which still has limited market share. He believes that if adult smokers switch to these products, there is potential to reduce health risks. However, he also emphasized, “The best way is always to quit smoking.”

Advocating for the development of heated tobacco products, Albig advocates for taking different approaches to address smoking issues, including increased information campaigns. He pointed out that in Italy and Japan, the market share of reduced-risk tobacco products is much higher than in Germany. He also mentioned Sweden, where smoking rates are low, and the use of snus products is prevalent.

In the German market, British American Tobacco (BAT) competes with PMI through its Glo brand. These products have been subject to controversy. On one hand, some believe they are relatively less harmful as they do not burn tobacco like traditional cigarettes. However, on the other hand, institutions like the German Cancer Research Center have warned about their potential health risks. Due to a lack of long-term research, the exact consequences are still unclear.