Global Marketing CR
Image default

KWF angry about sudden ‘campaign’ by tobacco giant Philip Morris: ‘This is pure advertising!’

KWF Kankerbestrijding is angry and surprised about a campaign that cigarette producer Philip Morris has started, in which the company points to the ‘smoke-free alternatives’ on the market. Tobacco manufacturers in the Netherlands are prohibited from advertising, also for alternatives such as e-cigarettes and ‘vapour cigarettes’. Philip Morris thinks the current campaign is allowed because it invokes the “right to information” and does not name the names of its own smoke-free alternatives.

The health funds

The Health Funds for Smoke-Free, of which KWF is part, has already notified the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) today to look at the campaign. The Philip Morris campaign kicks off with a newly launched website and a full-page advertisement in De Telegraaf. In it, Philip Morris points out that millions of Dutch people still smoke and that they ‘have a right to information’.

Philip Morris also says he is in favor of a smoke-free society and has already developed some smoke-free alternatives: cigarettes that do not burn but are heated and therefore would be less harmful, because hardly any smoke is released. e liquidsare found online. To the frustration of the company, these products are also not allowed to be advertised, although Philip Morris says that it only wants to inform the smoking Dutch person about the alternative product. In the pursuit of a smoke-free society, the production of “smoke-free alternatives” to tobacco use is wrongly ignored, Philip Morris believes.

KWF and other organizations have long warned against the ‘smoke-free alternatives’ because they are also unhealthy and could also attract non-smokers.


Philip Morris does not mention its own developed alternatives by name in the campaign. However, the name Philip Morris is in the ad. “That is our company’s policy: if you place an advertisement, you have to know from whom,” says Peter van den Driest of Philip Morris. Of course, he says, the lawyers have looked closely at the shape of this campaign. But Van den Driest emphasizes that the company really wants the Netherlands to get rid of the traditional cigarette and that ‘smoke-free alternatives are part of the solution’. “And of course this is also a signal to politicians.”

Pure advertising

KWF sees it very differently. The organization simply sees the campaign as pure advertising and a trick to circumvent the rules. “They are purely advertising for themselves and of course also for their own smoke-free alternatives,” says Mischa Stubenitsky of KWF. ,,It’s very simple: they just say: go on the steaming cigarette because, they say, it’s healthier. Buy e cigarettes online for a cheaper price. The company name is also simply in the ad. Isn’t a company name on a football shirt just advertising? If they want to get rid of the cigarette in the Netherlands, why don’t they just stop producing it today? It now seems as if they are trying to hijack the smoke-free Netherlands campaign.”

KWF does not think it should have just ignored this campaign. ,,Of course we have thought about it: should we give this attention, should we not make it bigger? But no, we have always championed the ban on advertising, which is part of the Smoke-Free Generation movement. So it can’t just be advertising anyway. We will always oppose that.”