The United Nation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) concluded last week with several anti-industry rulings, including increased efforts to curb industry influence and a call to crack down on new products. The response from the big tobacco companies was negative.

Philip Morris International (PMI) and Japan Tobacco International (JTI) responded by releasing surveys suggesting the public would prefer a more industry-friendly approach.

As reported by the Agence France-Presse (AFP), PMI published a new poll it commissioned from Ipsos about attitudes to new so-called “harm-reduction” products such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco sticks.

The survey of 31,000 people across 31 countries, conducted in September, showed that “77% of adults agree that governments should do all they can to encourage men and women who would otherwise keep smoking cigarettes to completely switch to better alternatives,” PMI said in a statement.

According to AFP, PMI and other companies say such products are far less dangerous than traditional cigarettes, and insist they can help smokers unable to quit completely switch to “safer” alternatives.

These alternatives are key to halting a smoking epidemic that causes some seven million deaths annually, the industry says.

But the World Health Organisation’s FCTC dismissed that argument, calling for the same bans on advertising, promotion and sponsorship deals that apply to cigarettes.

PMI lamented that the decision by treaty members “will mean that millions of smokers will not know about better alternatives to cigarettes”.