Demian Pintos, General Manager, Philip Morris Bulgaria, A Future Worth Sharing

At Philip Morris Bulgaria, we adapt to the rapidly changing environment and respond to the demands of our customers, says Demian Pintos, General Manager of the company.

What are the technologies and innovations you use to reduce the harmful effects of smoking and what results have you achieved?

We’re going through one of the greatest changes in the history of business – that’s how I would describe the transformation of Philip Morris International, which is building on science, innovation and technology to make cigarettes a thing of the past and provide adult smokers with potentially less harmful alternatives to smoking. Imagine a company with over 170 years of successful business history upending the perceptions of an entire industry. We do this through science and innovation with a team of over 1,500 world-class scientists, engineers and technicians working to develop and refine our smoke-free alternatives. These, while not without risk, are potentially less harmful than continued smoking as they eliminate the combustion process. Smoke-free alternatives heat the tobacco, emit no smoke, but an aerosol that contains significantly lower levels of harmful and potentially harmful substances than cigarette smoke.

We are still the only tobacco company in the world that has set a goal to replace cigarettes with less harmful alternatives for all smokers who do not completely quit using tobacco or nicotine. 27 million adult smokers worldwide have switched to IQOS, 71% of them have completely quit, i.e. over 17 million people in over 80 countries. In Bulgaria, we have been offering our leading smoke-free alternative for more than 6 years and are delighted with the progress we have made. Our users are now over 320 thousand. We can accelerate this process and we believe that the IQOS ILUMA innovation, which we introduced to adult smokers in the local market in October 2023, will contribute to fulfilling our mission.

Do you collaborate with innovative startups and what role do they play in the development of your business?

To execute our vision and business strategy, we embrace the values that make up a successful startup culture. They are an integral part of Philip Morris’ innovative DNA on our exciting journey of transformation towards building a smoke-free future. While we are a company with a long history and global reach, we operate with the mindset of a startup embarking on a journey to fulfill our vision, which to many may sound unthinkable – to reduce harm for all adult smokers who would otherwise continue to smoke, and leave cigarettes in the history books. And like successful startups, we are flexible in how we work and how we meet our goals. We believe in informal communication between our team members based on respect, support, authenticity and inclusion. We adapt to a rapidly changing environment, respond to the demands of our adult users and put their experience at the forefront. We focus on the wellbeing of our employees and support them in their development. We believe in curiosity and a willingness to improve, with many of our colleagues moving through roles in different teams and gaining a holistic view of our business. Annually, we invest in young talent, and this year will see the launch of our first IMPACT Graduate Programme, designed for young people seeking professional development among proven professionals in an international environment.

What is the company’s strategy to achieve a sustainable business model?

Sustainability is not just part of our business strategy – it is at its heart. The biggest impact we can make globally is to help millions of smokers switch to potentially less harmful alternatives. To that end, we have invested more than USD 10.5 billion in the scientific development and implementation of our smoke-free alternatives since 2008. In addition to focusing on the health impacts of our products, we also engage with the communities in which we operate about the environmental impact of our products. We execute our strategy in all aspects of our business, from the commercialization of our products to our interactions with partners, consumers and employees. We take particular pride in monitoring our progress and learning lessons along the way, doing research to improve our impact and deliver sustainable change.

How do regulations and the business environment affect Philip Morris Bulgaria’s operations?

According to WHO, there are over 1 billion smokers worldwide and this number is not expected to change in the next two decades. Traditional efforts to curb smoking are contributing but not delivering the desired results, which is why we are working to ensure that adult smokers have access to reliable information about our potentially less harmful smoke-free alternatives and make informed choices. We publish our research so people can learn the facts behind our products. We actively work with our partners to limit underage access to our products. As various new alternatives to traditional products emerge, we need to create the right regulatory framework to match the different risk profile of each product. Bulgaria is a country where such a regulatory framework has been established, including at the level of product regulation as well as differential taxation. A concerted effort in this direction by all stakeholders – industry, government and society – will accelerate progress towards a smoke-free world.

Demian Pintos has been the General Manager of Philip Morris Bulgaria since 1 March 2023. He comes from the company’s headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, and has extensive professional experience at Philip Morris International and other major international companies around the world.

“Philip Morris Bulgaria is part of Philip Morris International, the leading international tobacco company with over 170 years of history and a presence in 180 countries. In Bulgaria, the company has over 120 employees.