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The iQOS device, which has a similar shape to a short cigarette, works by heating tobacco leaves creating a smokeless alternative to combustible cigarettes. Bloomberg reported that these heatsticks will be sold under the Marlboro brand for approximately the same price as their combustible counterparts. An information partially contradicted by the Swiss journal Le Temps who says the Marlboro brand will actually be replaced by a new one called “Heets”. Depending on the market, a mention “From Marlboro” could be added underneath this new brand name in order for consumers to make the link between this new “heat-not-burn” product and its deadly cousin.

PMI investing heavily in smoking alternatives

The new iQOS heat stick branded "Heets".
The new iQos heat stick branded “Heets”.

Clearly investing in alternatives to tobacco cigarettes, Philip Morris International (PMI) has also designed another electronic device called P3L, that works by mixing nicotine with lactic acid producing an inhalable nicotine salt aerosol.

The study about this product was conducted and completed in New Zealand where the technology was well received, and subsequently a call for smokers wishing to participate in a similar study in the US has been released. Last month we also witnessed the launch of PMI flagship store in Switzerland, which will focus mainly on selling the iQos devices.

Since vaping products have been demonized for containing nicotine, a substance obviously also contained in the iQos devices, the FDA’s response will be scrutinized.
Whilst in most countries the most popular smokeless electronic devices are vaporizers, in Japan these are strictly regulated. However devices that heat tobacco leaves are viewed as pipe tobacco and left unregulated, therefore are more accessible and widely used. Such smokeless devices are so popular in a culture that places a lot of emphasis on cleanliness, that manufacturers struggle to keep up with the demand, infact 2 months after iQOS was introduced in Japan, it was already accounting for 3% of the country’s total tobacco sales.

PMI has invested 3 billion $ in producing alternatives to tobacco cigarettes and are hoping that revenue will reach 1.2 billion by 2020, whilst aiming to produce 32 million iQos devices for distribution just in the coming year.

Waiting for the FDA’s response

Although PMI has not yet gained the FDA’s approval for iQOS, it will still launch and start selling the product. Approval from the organization could mean that they could market it as a safer alternative to smoking, therefore many in the vaping industry and also some health organizations are expected to be watching closely. Since vaping products have been demonized for containing nicotine, a substance obviously also contained in the iQOS devices, the FDA’s response will be scrutinized.

  • Robert Innes

    I would think they will approve the product: It will boost master settlement funds.