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The results of a new international survey released today by Philip Morris International (PMI) reveal that citizens worldwide are frustrated by divisive and exclusionary approaches to policymaking. More than eight in ten adults surveyed worldwide (82%) believe the best solutions to critical global challenges can be found not at the extremes but in the middle ground.
Conducted by independent research firm Povaddo for PMI, the survey of more than 44,000 adults in 22 countries including Malaysia shows strong agreement among respondents (88%) that when making decisions that affect the lives of a significant portion of the population, leaders must listen to and advocate for the people they represent.
Looking closely at market-specific results, Malaysian respondents believed a consequence of increasingly divided discourse is the growing prevalence of misinformation, in some cases, intended to mislead public opinion. The results from this survey show the importance to the public of decisions being made based on science and facts as well as the importance of access to information on smoke-free alternatives:
- 81% of legal-age general population adults in Malaysia believe decisions that impact society and public health should be based on science and facts.
- 82% of legal-age general population adults expect leaders to adopt laws and regulations based on facts and data to keep up with the pace of technological change and innovation.
- 71% of legal-age general population adults agree that smokers who would otherwise continue to smoke cigarettes should have access to, and accurate information about, smoke-free alternatives that are scientifically substantiated to be a better choice than continued smoking.
Agreement for providing access to, and information about, smoke-free alternative products is strong even among non-consumers, which shows broad societal support for this policy approach. Yet, despite this, there is an appetite from the public for stakeholders to come together and find pragmatic solutions.
- 77% believe that it is better if leaders pursue policy changes that would bring about incremental changes that are easy to put into action rather than wide, sweeping changes that are harder to implement.
Malaysia has a unique once-in-a-generation opportunity to reduce smoking prevalence if all parties work together. Finding the right balance of supporting new regulations aimed at preventing smoking initiation and promoting smoking cessation can be complemented by measures that enable those adults who would otherwise continue to smoke to have access to and information about science-based alternatives. Inclusion of a harm reduction approach in strategies aimed at decreasing smoking prevalence has the potential to foster more rapid declines and can allow for progress in the realm of public health.Philip Morris Malaysia Managing Director Naeem Shahab Khan
In addition, the global survey results show support for a balanced approach to tobacco regulation, one that brings together all voices and encourages incremental progress on harm reduction. Specifically, the survey found that:
- 77% agree that the too-often-ignored perspectives of those most directly impacted need to be included in regulatory discussions;
- 75% agree that societal expectations of total abstinence from substances such as nicotine and alcohol are not feasible, and so the government should take steps to reduce the harm of their use; and
- 72% agree that their governments need to consider the role alternative products can play in making their countries smoke-free.
“If we are to address the challenges we face as a society in a meaningful and expeditious way, a more balanced and inclusive approach is required,” said Gregoire Verdeaux, Senior Vice President, External Affairs. “This includes policy decisions that consider first and foremost the people who are most impacted—ensuring their voices are heard and their needs are met—and then bringing all relevant parties to the table, including subject matter experts, private companies, civil society leaders, and others who can contribute to solving the issues at hand.”
Despite increasingly polarized societies worldwide, the survey revealed a strong consensus that finding a middle ground on contentious issues can drive incremental policy change and enable progress:
- 90% of respondents believe that to solve the most pressing societal challenges, leaders need to consider all perspectives—even those that run counter to their own.
- 88% said they would be more likely to vote for leaders who listen to all sides of an issue and adopt sensible approaches that better the lives of ordinary people.
Currently, less than a third of adults surveyed (31 percent) believe their views are reflected in the way their governments are addressing critical issues. Additionally, the survey found that citizens are tired of waiting for change and are willing to compromise to make things happen:
- 76% believe leaders should pursue policy changes that allow for incremental progress on societal issues rather than hold out for sweeping changes that are harder to implement.
Finally, people want companies and business leaders to help drive change:
- 85% of respondents believe that citizens and companies working together will have a more meaningful impact.
- 77% welcome corporate involvement in addressing major issues.
Gregoire Verdeaux said, “In countries across the world, citizens are tired of policymaking logjams and eager for constructive change. In the area of tobacco harm reduction, PMI has long advocated for a sensible approach that prioritizes the interests of current adult smokers and public health. By having balanced and inclusive discussions about the science behind better alternatives and adopting a more people-centric approach, we can accelerate the end of cigarettes. More than a billion people continue to smoke. We must—and can—do better, and that starts with open, fact-based dialogue.”
For additional information and to access the full global data set, visit www.pmi.com/hearallvoices.
Povaddo conducted the online survey on behalf of PMI between February 5 and 23, 2022. The survey was fielded among 44,000+ general population adults aged 21 and older in 22 countries: Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines, Portugal, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Around 2,000 interviews were conducted in each country (approximately equally split between adults who do and do not use nicotine-containing products). The data are weighted to be representative of the online population in each country on the following variables: age, gender, region, and nicotine use. The results are accurate to a margin of error of ±1 percent.