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Philip Morris International Could Snuff Out Traditional Cigarettes

The company's smokeless tobacco products could someday replace production of traditional cigarettes.

One of the world's largest cigarette companies could someday phase out its chief product. 

The CEO of Philip Morris International, the company behind Marlboro cigarettes, told the BBC the company could stop producing its conventional cigarettes and replace them with smokeless cigarettes. 

SEE MORE: Are E-Cigarettes Healthier? Depends On Who's Funding The Research

"We produce a product that causes disease, and I think the primary responsibility we have once the technology is available ... is to develop products like this as soon as possible and commercialize them," CEO André Calantzopoulos said.

He's talking about products like the company's heated tobacco cigarettes, which launched in the U.K. on Wednesday. Philip Morris' competitors are also looking to provide consumers with alternatives to traditional cigarettes. 

But Philip Morris' CEO didn't say when they could stop manufacturing traditional cigarettes, and he said conversion rates from those cigarettes are still pretty low. The World Health Organization says tobacco kills about six million people each year. And despite efforts to give consumers alternatives to smoking, the organization estimates there will still be more than a billion smokers worldwide by 2025. 

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