Philip Morris International Inc. is a Swiss-American multinational cigarette and tobacco manufacturing company, with products sold in over 180 countries. The most recognized and best selling product of the company is Marlboro. Philip Morris International is often referred to as one of the companies comprising Big Tobacco.
Until a spin-off in March 2008, Philip Morris International was an operating company of Altria. Altria explained the spin-off, arguing PMI would have more "freedom," i.e. leeway outside the responsibilities and standards of American corporate ownership in terms of potential litigation and legislative restrictions to "pursue sales growth in emerging markets", while Altria focuses on the American domestic market. The shareholders in Altria at the time were given shares in PMI, which was listed on the London Stock Exchange and other markets.
The company's legal seat is in New York City, yet it does not operate in the United States of America. Philip Morris USA, a subsidiary of PMI's former owner American parent Altria group, owns the Philip Morris brands there. Operational headquarters are in Lausanne, Switzerland.
With tobacco being addictive and the single greatest cause of preventable death globally, the company is highly controversial, not least because of its history of obfuscating scientific evidence around the health impacts of smoking. It has been the subject of litigation and restrictive legislation from governments.