Philip Morris International’s VEEV Marketing Strategy in AustraliaArvin Peh
Philip Morris International (PMI) is distributing marketing materials in Australian pharmacies for its e-cigarette product VEEV, highlighting its potential as a smoking cessation tool.
According to Australian media outlet newsGP on July 5th, Philip Morris International (PMI) distributed marketing manuals to pharmacies in Australia. The manuals introduced the pricing of the e-cigarette product VEEV to customers. The manuals stated that VEEV can be used as a smoking cessation tool, and PMI will provide pharmacies that sign supply agreements with them with 80% of the total sales profit.
According to the report, the contact information for PMI can only be found in a small font single reference at the bottom of the manual.
According to Australian legislation, the federal government has prohibited the importation of all non-prescription e-cigarettes and fully banned disposable e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes can only be purchased at pharmacies upon presentation of a prescription issued by a general practitioner.
According to the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) guidelines for smoking cessation, the use of e-cigarettes as a tool to quit smoking is considered a last-resort treatment method. Professor Nick Zwar, chair of the expert advisory group for the guidelines, stated that general practitioners need to be aware of the background of the prescription products they recommend. “I don’t think many doctors would want to be associated with tobacco companies,” said Prof. Zwar.
Nick Svart questions whether large tobacco companies are qualified to provide prescription products for therapeutic purposes. He states, “They have always sought to sell nicotine-containing products, including combustible tobacco, to maximize profits, but at the expense of significant harm to human health and the economy.” He believes that involving tobacco companies in products for therapeutic use poses a major conflict of interest.
Simon Chapman, a respected professor of public health at the University of Sydney, has claimed that Philip Morris International (PMI) has been actively promoting e-cigarettes as consumer products worldwide. Since the sale of e-cigarettes is currently only legal in Australia with a prescription, PMI is now attempting to exploit the law to gain an advantage by offering doctors 80% of the profits from e-cigarette sales. This move clearly shows their intention to outdo their competitors.
Simon Chapman believes that if PMI succeeds, the government’s prescription plan is likely to fail, leading Australia to once again loosen restrictions on e-cigarette purchases, thus achieving the open consumer model desired by PMI.
When interviewed about the incident, the spokesperson of PMI stated that the company is making efforts to comply with the new laws.
A spokesperson from PMI stated that RACGP had participated in the development of the prescription e-cigarette guidelines, but they criticized PMI for being a responsible operator involved in it, while ignoring the fact that many other companies are fueling the e-cigarette black market.
We urge the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners to collaborate with us in eliminating the black market of e-cigarettes and ensuring that individuals who choose to quit smoking using e-cigarettes have the option to use legitimate and regulated products such as VEEV after consulting with their general practitioners.” the spokesperson said.
According to sources, PMI has engaged a company to distribute sales and marketing materials to pharmacies, and many pharmacies have already signed direct transaction agreements. The media reached out to these pharmacies for an interview, but did not receive any response before the deadline.