Public Wants Greater Focus On Science-Based Decision-Making, Says New PMI Survey

A new international survey has revealed that the public wants greater focus on science-based decision-making. 

The survey, which was released on Tuesday by Philip Morris International (PMI), said majority of adults surveyed believe science can solve critical global challenges.

The survey noted that half of respondents believe governments are doing “a good job in leveraging science to inform decisions”.

The Vice President for Strategic and Scientific Communications at PMI, Dr. Moira Gilchrist, said science has helped to make significant strides in the collective efforts to address the world’s most pressing problems.

According to Gilchrist, “Unfortunately, governments and broader society have yet to embrace science at its fullest potential, as this global survey shows. 

“Ensuring facts and evidence are given greater prominence in policymaking —over ideology, politics, and unsubstantiated beliefs—will help match the public’s expectations for science to sit at the heart of decisions impacting them and their future.”

The PMI survey further revealed that people’s access to accurate scientific information was far from assured, with nearly half of the total sample indicating that they find it difficult to access reliable information about scientific developments and relevant studies.

“This finding is alarming and sends a clear signal across business, media, and government that accurately communicating scientific information should remain an important priority.

“When reliable scientific information is in short supply, misinformation, wild guesses, and hearsay can take more space and significantly hamper people’s ability to make informed decisions,” added Gilchrist. 

The PMI vice president explained that the organisation was currently undergoing a fundamental transformation into a science- and technology-led company with the aim of delivering a smoke-free future—a future without cigarettes. 

Gilchrist said, “With the right regulatory encouragement and support from civil society, we believe this goal can be achieved in many countries in 10 to 15 years. Science is central to delivering on this commitment. 

“Since 2008, PMI has invested billions of dollars in developing, testing, and manufacturing better alternatives to cigarettes for adults who would otherwise continue to smoke. These products are the result of nearly two decades of R&D work, underpinned by a rigorous scientific assessment program and led by a team that today includes more than 430 world-class scientists and other experts. 

“We make our scientific findings and methods available for others to scrutinize, we invite independent research into our products, and we encourage a broad, science-based conversation with regulators, scientists, and the public health community about these better alternatives and the role they can play in tobacco control and harm reduction.”

Over 19,000 adults across 19 countries and territories participated in the independent survey conducted by Povaddo, on behalf of PMI, between June 25 and July 8, 2020.

The respondents, who aged 21 and above, are from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Vietnam.

The international survey reveals that faith in science is high, with most people surveyed (77 percent) hopeful that advances in science will solve many of society’s biggest problems. 

The 90 percent of the respondents expressed strong interest in businesses prioritizing science, saying it is important to them that businesses invest continually in science to improve their products.

About half of the respondents (47 percent) also believe that society does not place enough importance on science.

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