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Tobacco giant Philip Morris International says it plans to stop selling cigarettes in Britain within the next decade.
The company, which owns brand Marlboro, is reportedly putting a stop to cigarettes in a bid to push less harmful 'modern alternatives' such as e-cigarettes or heated tobacco devices.
Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, chief executive of Philip Morris Jacek Olczak said that the plans were part of the drive to bring the curtain down on traditional smoking in the UK and become a smoke-free company.
Olczak said: "I want to allow this company to leave smoking behind. I think in the UK, ten years from now maximum, you can completely solve the problem of smoking."
When he was asked whether that meant the company would stop selling traditional cigarettes, he responded: "Absolutely."
Olczak went on to say demand would fizzle out anyway.
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He added: "It will disappear. The first choice for consumers is they should quit smoking. But if they don't, the second best choice is to let them switch to the better alternatives."
The government revealed it plans to make England smoke-free by 2030.
However, leading medics have predicted that the country will miss this target.
In an open letter to the Prime Minister and Health Secretary Sajid Javid, experts said that 'despite acknowledging that it would be extremely challenging', there is still no sign to date of the 'bold action the government promised to deliver this crucial public health objective.'
The letter, which was published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), said: "Although we are a world leader in tobacco control, the current rate of decline in smoking is insufficient to deliver the ambition."
Since the plan was announced two years ago, more than 200,000 children under the age of 16 in England have started smoking.
The BMJ claims two-thirds of these will go on to become daily smokers.
The letter continued: "Half the difference in life expectancy between rich and poor people is the result of smoking, and the economic, as well as health, gains from a smoke-free country will benefit most those in disadvantaged groups and disadvantaged regions."
The experts also said that the government should implement the recommendations from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health, including introducing a levy on tobacco manufacturers, which could raise £700million in a year alone.
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