Philip Morris International says it is taking to the Middle East and Africa its call to the creative, media and communications communities to go smoke-free.

‘We started our push at the Cannes Festival of Creativity, where we asked creative agencies to join PMI in making the world smoke-free’, the company said in a press note posted on its website. ‘We are continuing our efforts to find partners with a presence at the Middle East and Africa’s biggest gathering of creative agencies, the Loeries Creative Week.

‘Our lounge at the event is an interactive educational area raising awareness on the role that science, innovation, and technology can play for people who smoke, and informing on PMI’s efforts to replace cigarettes with less harmful alternatives.’

PMI reported that a number of agencies had signed up already, including the first group in Africa, Publicis Groupe Africa.

‘We are asking creative agencies from the Middle East and Africa to join their peers in going smoke-free,’ the note said. ‘To help them understand our commitment, PMI will provide education on the fact that quitting tobacco and nicotine remains the best option for those who smoke, but that for those smokers who would continue, a range of smoke-free alternatives now exist.’

“There is a large opportunity in the Middle East and Africa to leverage innovation and science for those who smoke and the people around them,” said senior vice president global communications Marian Salzman. “We’re asking the creative community based in the region and elsewhere to join us in raising awareness around this important initiative.”

Meanwhile, Drago Azinovic, president of PMI’s Middle East, Africa, and Duty-Free operations, said the company’s vision for the world and for the Middle East and Africa is for all people who would otherwise continue to smoke to switch instead to less harmful alternatives. “Joining forces with the creative community in the region can help make this important objective happen faster,” Azinovic said.

The CEO of Publicis Groupe Africa, John Dixon, said his company was proud to be the first agency network in Africa to commit to a smoke-free future and was aligned with PMI’s bold ambition of a smoke-free world. “Our 14 agencies across two regions will support the cause,” he said.

Agencies that are interested in taking part should contact Marian Salzman at marian.salzman@pmi.com.

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