The iQOS device, is a Heat not Burn (HnB) 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 up once iQOS is turned on. They are sold by Philip Morris under the Marlboro brand (depending on the country) for approximately the same price as their combustible counterparts.
Gregory Conley, president of the AVA, sent a letter to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “As strong believers in the possibility of the United States attaining a ‘smoke-free’ future with technology, innovation, and a recognition of informed human choice, we strongly recommended that the FDA approve these MRTP applications.” read the opening paragraph of the letter.
Conley pointed out that smokers in 25 countries have legal access to iQOS. However in the US, the complex application process has prevented the product from being made available. Sadly, in the US, it is easier for a tobacco company to release a new combustible product than a safer alternative, added the AVA’s president.
“Published research suggests that smokers who quit by using iQOS make similar health advancements as those who quit using tobacco products entirely. In essence, PMI has spent billions of dollars to prove what has been a basic tenet of tobacco harm reduction since Dr. Michael Russell first wrote in the British Medical Journal in 1976, “Smokers smoke for the nicotine, but they die from the tar.”” said Conley.
iQOS popularity in Japan
Conley pointed out that data from Japan on decreased smoking rates is very encouraging. A recent quarterly report from Japan Tobacco indicates that in the first six months of 2017, cigarette sales fell by 11%. A drop of this magnitude was unprecedented and not predicted, hence the company was forced to cut cigarette production by 3 billion cigarettes for the last 6 months of 2017.
HnB products may be riskier than vaporizers, but safer than cigarettes
“Of course, heat-not-burn products are going to make some members of the tobacco control and public health communities very uncomfortable. After all, many activists have spent years fighting the products sold by the applicants” said Conley. However, he concluded, smokers in the US deserve to have a wide range of safer smoke-free tobacco products.
“While a smoker who switches to iQOS will still be exposed to more chemicals than they would if they switched to a vapor product, smokeless tobacco, or smokeless nicotine product, iQOS products nonetheless offer smokers a way out that will expose them to far less toxic chemicals than they would if they had kept smoking combustible cigarettes.”