Philip Morris wants to quit its tobacco habit

(CBS) - Taking a page from the millions of people who make New Year's resolutions to quit smoking, Philip Morris International (PM), which traces its roots to a 19th century London tobacconist's shop, has announced it hopes to kick the habit as well.

In full-page ads in several U.K. newspapers on Thursday, Philip Morris said it aims to quit selling cigarettes Britain at an unspecified future date, a goal the company admits won't be easy to meet. It plans to launch a website to provide smokers with information on quitting and on alternatives to cigarettes. 

Philip Morris also plans to support anti-smoking efforts of local U.K. governments in areas where smoking rates are highest and to seek approvals to insert information on quitting and switching to alternatives into cigarette packs.

"We believe we have an important role to play in helping the U.K. become smoke-free," wrote Peter Nixon, managing director of PML, in a letter to U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May. "The commitments announced today are practical steps that could accelerate that goal. We recognize that never starting to smoke -- or quitting altogether -- are always the best option."

Critics of the tobacco industry aren't impressed.

"This is the same-old, same-old from a company that's a convicted racketeer," said Erika Sward, assistant vice president for national advocacy at the American Lung Association. "Make no mistake, Philip Morris is still very much in the tobacco and cigarette business as well as the cigar and the smokeless [tobacco] business."


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