He said that the company is perfectly equipped to replace cigarettes with safer alternatives. “We have a globally leading portfolio of both traditional and smoke-free tobacco products, an outstanding management team and are an agile, efficient and fast-learning organisation. We are perfectly equipped to continue to be successful in our vision to replace cigarettes with better alternatives, to the benefit of consumers, shareholders and society at large,” he said as quoted by The Edge.
Dialogue is key
However, for all this to be achieved he said, more dialogue among all interested parties is required. “Dialogue is key. Unless there is a constructive conversation among all parties on the evidence that supports this vision and on how to improve public health, things will not move at the same pace. And any delay would go to the detriment of smokers who would not benefit from innovation and science, and public health.”
Speaking about the company’s heated tobacco product, IQOS, the incoming CEO said that the overwhelming majority of users have fully switched from smoking to the safer alternative.
“Importantly, over 70% of them (total IQOS users) have switched completely to IQOS and abandoned cigarettes,” states Olczak. “We are making tremendous progress towards our goal of a smoke-free future. As of the third quarter (3Q) of 2020, smoke-free products [were] approaching one quarter or just over 23% of our total revenue. This reflects, among others, the continued strength of IQOS.”
Legal battle over iQOS
Meanwhile, as a result of the ongoing legal battle with British American Tobacco Plc (BAT) over the product’s patent, PMI is facing the risk of having imports of IQOS to the US blocked.
In May 2020, BAT submitted a lawsuit against its main competitor, PMI, in the United States and Germany, alleging that the tobacco heating technology used in PMI’s HnB device IQOS, has infringed its patents.
BAT had explained that in the US, it filed two patent infringement claims, one via the US International Trade Commission (ITC) and one in the Virginia federal court. The tobacco company claimed it sought compensation for the damages caused and an injunction on importing the product.
Both the lawsuits in Germany and the US, are based on the accusation that the heating blade technology used in IQOS, is an earlier version of the technology currently being used in BAT’s glo tobacco heating devices. BAT had planned to launch its glo range in Germany this year, and PMI started selling IQOS in the US in 2019, with the latter being the only HnB device approved for sale in the country.
“If we win we may be able to get an ITC exclusion order blocking the importation of IQOS into the U.S. by Philip Morris unless they agree to take a license to our patents,” said BAT spokesman Will Hill.