One of the world’s largest tobacco companies, Philip Morris International announced it was relocating its U.S. corporate headquarters and 200 jobs to Fairfield County next year.
The company, which touted its desire to move away from tobacco and even eliminate smoking, will not receive any incentives from the state, and the jobs will be employees relocating from the existing headquarters in New York City.
Indra Nooyi and James Smith, co-chairs of Advance CT – a non-profit that works with the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development to retain and recruit businesses – touted Connecticut’s “natural strengths”: quality of life, an educated workforce and an “inherent curiosity” that drives innovation, in a press conference the organization put together to hype the announcement on Tuesday morning.
Philip Morris International CEO Jacek Olczak said the “marketing material” touting the state’s advantages are true, and that a welcoming relationship with Gov. Ned Lamont dating back to September 2019 also played a role in the company’s move. In initial meetings, nobody from the state was asking what Philip Morris was going to bring to the state, and the company didn’t ask what the state could offer them.
“There was no push, no pull,” Olczak said. “There were several other meetings that just confirmed that this is the environment that would be right for the new Philip Morris International headquarters.”
Olczak said Philip Morris International is committed to a “smoke-free future,” and the company said in a press release that “non-combustible” products like vapes accounted for 30 percent of the company’s revenue in the first quarter of 2021. The company is aiming to have a majority of its revenue coming from smoke free products by the end of 2025.
The announcement comes shortly after the conclusion of a legislative session where a bill to ban the sale of flavored nicotine products failed to come up for a vote. Proponents of the bill feared the flavored vape products are aimed at teenagers and young adults.
JUUL Labs – a vape manufacturer and subsidiary of Philip Morris parent company Altria – opposed that legislation, particularly banning menthol flavoring. Kate Rumbaugh, JUUL’s vice president of state government affairs, wrote to the Public Health Committee to encourage them to establish policies that discourage smoking and encourage moving adult smokers to “potentially less harmful noncombustible alternatives.”
Asked what he would say to critics of his support for a major cigarette manufacturer, Lamont touted Philip Morris International’s promises to change over the next several years. He said the company’s desire to innovate aligns with the state’s priorities and strengths.
“I’m proud they’re here. I’m proud to have the support of many different facets of our community, and I’m proud of the fact that a lot of people who are addicted to smoking today won’t be addicted over the next 5-10 years thanks to a lot of the efforts [Philip Morris] is making,” Lamont said.