March 5, 2024

GCC survey reveals urgent need for industry-wide innovation

A new survey conducted across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), the Kingdom of Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Kuwait has revealed how industries, particularly the tobacco industry, must take bigger steps towards product innovation to reduce harm.

The survey, conducted independently by leading Dubai-based market research company 4SiGHT, was commissioned by Philip Morris Management Services (Middle East) Limited. (PMMS) to understand how the general public viewed the subject of harm reduction and their perspective on companies that are undertaking similar initiatives.

Drawing on the opinion of more than 2,500 respondents across the four GCC countries, the survey revealed that a majority of Kuwait participants (62%) strongly believe product innovation is key to harm reduction. Similarly, 45% of participants equally in the UAE and KSA also believe the same. Meanwhile, among participants in Bahrain and Kuwait, an impressive 86% and 89% respectively identified tobacco as one of the key industries that should undergo transformation to address harm. Following tobacco, a majority of respondents across all four markets also pointed out fast food, pharma, automotive and chemical industries as key industries that must innovate and implement transformational practices to create less-harmful alternatives.

To initially measure the foundational understanding of harm reduction across all markets, the survey explored the general public’s comprehension, familiarity with harm reduction practices, and whether they were implemented on a habitual or awareness-led basis. The majority of the population across all markets claimed to be familiar with the concept, especially Kuwait participants (47%) fairing higher than 13% of participants in Bahrain, 15% in the UAE, and 17% in Saudi Arabia. When asked about harm reduction in practice, respondents cited using seatbelts, hybrid and electric vehicles, bike helmets and vaccinations as more salient harm reduction practices.

The survey also revealed that in all four markets, harm reduction practices were more habitual than awareness driven. While many were aware that their practices would prevent harm, the majority also unknowingly engaged in these practices without realizing they fell under the definition of “harm reduction” concepts. Common harm reduction practices, both known and unknown, across the GCC included using sun protection, refrigerating food, vaccinations, and wearing seat belts.

Based on the survey findings that highlighted how industries, predominantly tobacco, must embrace harm reduction practices, the general overall population believed burnt chemicals, nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide to be the key elements that need to be addressed by the tobacco industry. A significant 67% of Kuwait participants were convinced that harm reduction is extremely important for adult smokers, while 51% of UAE respondents strongly feel that adult cigarette smokers should switch to less-harmful alternatives.

Tarkan Demirbas, Area Vice-President Middle East, Philip Morris Management Services (Middle East) Limited., commented: “These survey findings underscore the urgent call to action for leading organizations especially those operating in highly regulated sectors like tobacco to innovate and develop better alternatives that replace products bringing harm to public health. As consumers become increasingly conscious of what they consume, businesses must practice accountability by embracing product innovation and consequently, company-wide transformation.

At Philip Morris International (PMI), we’ve taken up this approach with unwavering determination, placing consumer well-being at the very heart of our operations. Our commitment is about creating a far-reaching, positive impact on society as a whole. This commitment centers on harm reduction as the cornerstone of our journey towards a smoke-free future.”

The results of the 4SiGHT survey align with PMI’s strategic transformation journey toward creating a smoke-free future. Awareness of heated tobacco products are relatively high across all four markets, especially in Kuwait, leading with 48%. While not risk-free, when scientifically developed and made to appropriate quality and safety standards, heated tobacco products can be better alternatives to cigarettes. PMI is already bringing this solution in the form of its heated tobacco product, and other smoke free products available in 82 markets as of September, 2023[1].

Being informed and educated continues to be critical when discussing harm reduction and smoking. 61% of the population in Kuwait firmly believe adult smokers should be given accurate, scientifically backed information to make informed choices on new-age options, followed by 43% in Saudi Arabia, 37% in the UAE, and 36% in Bahrain. PMI’s transition to a smoke-free future is based on the premise of informing adult smokers on how harm reduction can benefit public health by minimizing morbidity from smoking-related diseases and extending longevity.

The best choice for any smoker is to completely quit tobacco and nicotine products. However, many don’t. For those adults who would otherwise continue to smoke, there are better alternatives. PMI is transforming for good to deliver smoke-free products to adults who would otherwise continue to smoke cigarettes.

[1] Source: PMI Q3 2023 Earnings Release

Last Updated on 2 months by Middle East News 247

    Middle East News 247

    Middle East News 247

    Middle East News 247 delivers trending business and lifestyle news and essential infotainment for, and from the Middle East region, with key focus on the GCC nations: United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman.
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