Tobacco Giant Says New Technology Is Converting 8,000 Smokers Daily

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

Philip Morris International says its new tobacco technology is helping scores of smokers quit at a rate of roughly 8,000 a day.

The tobacco giant announced Aug. 24 approximately 3 million smokers in Singapore have transitioned off cigarettes to the company’s heat-not-burn device, iQOS. The iQOS device heats tobacco instead of burning it, which PMI argues produces a more powerful buzz than current e-cigarettes while still eliminating much of the harms of smoking, reported Vaping Post Monday.

PMI says more than 232,000 smokers across the world ditched cigarettes for the iQOS device in July, or roughly 8,000 people a day.

“Our ambition is that all the people who would otherwise continue smoking switch to scientifically substantiated smoke-free alternatives as soon as possible,” said Lawrence Chew, General Manager of Philip Morris Singapore Pte Ltd, according to Vaping Post. “But we cannot achieve this mammoth task alone. All stakeholders of the industry have a role to play.”

Unlike a traditional e-cigarette, which vaporizes nicotine fluid, the iQOS heats tobacco leaves. Tobacco sticks branded HEETS, which resemble small cigarettes, are inserted into the heating device for use.

The iQOS device debuted in Japan last year and is proving a smash hit in the country. Sales are outperforming PMI’s expectations, accounting for 7.1 percent of Japan’s overall tobacco sales as of the first quarter of 2017. At this rate, PMI CEO Andre Calantzopoulos estimates traditional cigarettes could be on the chopping block in Japan within a few years.

Evidence suggests that because the majority of cancer-causing chemicals are inhaled through smoke, e-cigarettes eliminate up to 95 percent of the risk. Recent research evaluating the impact of heat-not-burn devices on overall health are bolstering their image as a harm reduction product that can help move smokers away from traditional cigarettes.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration began reviewing PMI’s product application this year for the iQOS, which will determine if the product can be sold in the U.S. The FDA also started reviewing PMI’s Modified Risk Tobacco Product application May 25, which will determine if the iQOS can be marketed as a safer alternative to smoking.

There is no deadline for the review and PMI expects it could take up to a year.

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Steve Birr

Vice Reporter

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