Philip Morris International, long one of the biggest names in tobacco sales, plans to move its headquarters and about 200 jobs from New York to Connecticut, the company and Gov. Ned Lamont’s office announced Tuesday.
Lamont and PMI’s CEO, Jacek Olczak, made the announcement during a Stamford event hosted and live-streamed by AdvanceCT. During the event, Olczak tried to distance his brand, which now sells smokeless nicotine alternatives like e-cigarettes in the United States, from Philip Morris USA, which markets cigarette brands like Marlboro.
“We get divorced but we forgot to change our names,” Olczak joked during the event.
The governor’s office said the state will not provide the company any special tax incentives to relocate to the state. During the event, Lamont characterized the move as the result of his organic discussions between himself and PMI’s leadership.
“It started out with a relationship. We just had a mutual associate – a friend got us introduced. You know, most states do this by having the governor go on TV or do direct calls. We just did this on a personal basis,” Lamont said.
The news comes after a legislative session in which lawmakers considered and, in some cases, passed new rules against nicotine products. A bill legalizing adult-use recreational cannabis, which Lamont was expected to sign into law later Tuesday, contains new restrictions on where cigarettes can be smoked.
Meanwhile, the governor had proposed to ban the sale of flavored vaping products. The ban was ultimately scrapped by lawmakers late in the session. But Max Reiss, Lamont’s chief spokesman, said Tuesday the administration still feels it is the right policy for the state.
“We’re going to continue pursuing it,” Reiss said. “One company who now wants to be a good corporate neighbor doesn’t necessarily change the policy position and goals for the governor.”
The company’s new headquarters is expected to be completed by next summer, according to a press release. Olczak told the governor PMI would be a valuable addition to Connecticut’s community.
“There’s a little bit of this judgment – legacy, if you like, on PMI, but the moment you have met Philip Morris people, you will fall in love with them. This is what we are going to bring to you,” he said.
Lamont said both the state and Philip Morris were trying to rebrand themselves. The governor touted the recently-adopted two-year state budget which includes no major tax increases. He said Connecticut’s industries have leaned into technology in an effort to stay competitive.
“If you don’t reinvent yourself, you get run over,” Lamont, a former owner of a cable television company, said. “You’ve got to continue to reinvent yourself and that’s what you’re doing, that’s what I’m doing. That’s what CEOs do.”
PMI employs around 71,000 people worldwide, according to a press release.