Gov. Lamont welcomes Philip Morris International headquarters to Stamford despite anti-smoking critics
Gov. Ned Lamont was in Stamford on Monday to welcome one of the world's largest companies to the city - but not everyone is aboard the welcome wagon.
The company moving from New York City into the long-vacant UBS Building in Stamford's downtown is Philip Morris International – the global division of one of the world's biggest tobacco companies. Lamont insisted that it's a good move for Connecticut.
"This building now is just about 100% leased up, and people are rediscovering what makes Stamford such an extraordinary place,” said Lamont.
PMI produced 628 billion cigarettes last year, but the company is transitioning itself to smokeless products. Those products currently make up 30% of sales. By 2025, Philip Morris expects half of sales to be smokeless.
PMI doesn't sell vapes, but its former parent company, Altria, is heavily invested in Juul - which Connecticut Democrats have criticized for marketing to kids. At the State Capitol, Democrats are pushing to ban flavored vape pods and menthol cigarettes. Lamont doesn't see a contradiction.
"I think PMI is devoting itself to finding a safer alternative to smoking,” he said.
"Our overall commitment is to replace our cigarette business with smoke-free products like IQOS, which has been authorized by the FDA,” said Deepak Mishra, the president of Philip Morris International.
Philip Morris plans to start moving workers to the building next summer although many of them will work remotely. As for incentives - the state isn't paying them a cent.
Philip Morris will also share a part of the building with WWE, which has also moved its corporate operations to the same location.