Last year PMI made headlines when Andre Calantzopoulos, the company’s CEO said that he would like “to work with governments towards the “phase-out” of conventional cigarettes”. Additionally Peter Nixon, the Managing Director for UK and Ireland had said, “We want to move towards a smoke-free future and a lot of that is incentivising people to move across from cigarettes to something that is less harmful.”
Naturally, many are sceptical that the aim of such statements is ensuring the visibility of Philip Morris’ harm reduction product, iQOS. However the big tobacco company persists in pointing out that it really wants to stop selling cigarettes and turn the business into a sustainable one. ‘We are absolutely serious – one day we want to stop selling cigarettes,’ said Peter Nixon.
A smokefree future is an attainable goal
Then last week Philip Morris Singapore Pte Ltd, who is an affiliate of Philip Morris International announced that about three million smokers have already switched to IQOS. The company added that in July 2017 alone, over 232,000 smokers converted to IQOS globally. This equates to an impressive 8,000 people a day, which the company said is an indication that obtaining a smoke free future is a realistic goal.
“Our ambition is that all the people who would otherwise continue smoking switch to scientifically substantiated smoke-free alternatives as soon as possible. But we cannot achieve this mammoth task alone” said Lawrence Chew, General Manager of Philip Morris Singapore Pte Ltd. “All stakeholders of the industry have a role to play. We are encouraged by the growing number of experts and governments that are taking steps to support the role that science and innovation can have for public health, and hope Singapore will too.”
iQOS’ unparallel success in Asia
The iQOS device, is a smokeless alternative to combustible cigarettes and works by heating tobacco leaves known as Heets or HeatSticks. These refills which look like short cigarettes, must be inserted into the device and are heated it up once iQOS is turned on and are sold under the Marlboro brand for approximately the same price as their combustible counterparts.
PMI’s iQOS is already available in several countries including Switzerland, Italy, and most importantly in Japan, and Korea, where it has had unparallel success. The product is also expected to be available for sale in the US later this year, following an extensive application process with US health authorities. Additionally the product would only be allowed to be marketed as a safer alternative after a second certification process with the FDA.
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