IQOS, A Game Changer For Philip Morris In Its Commitment For A Smoke-Free Future
Posted on 2020 Dec,05  | By Ghada Azzi

Philip Morris International recently organised a webinar to stress on the substantial efforts and significant investments the company is putting forth to support the development and assessment of its smoke-free products, including IQOS, their most advanced product today--the heated tobacco device-- which is commercialized in 61 different markets.

In recent years, many sectors, including the tobacco and the health sectors, have begun to make great progress in technologies that advance cigarette making and provide alternatives to conventional cigarettes.


There is no doubt that the invention of potentially low-risk products requires tremendous product research and development and scientific evidence, in addition to understanding the behaviors and attitudes of adult smokers.

For a more in-depth look into such an investment, Carla Younes, Manager Communications at PMI Global, was keen to stress on the fact that PMI's CEO, André Calantzopoulos, made four years ago a very daring statement to the world saying that as the oldest and leading tobacco company, PMI aims to stop commercializing cigarettes and offer better alternatives to adult smokers the world over.

PMI who pledged to help reach a smoke-free future has invested more than $7 billion since 2008 on smoke-free products with that stated ambition that they will one day replace cigarettes to the potential benefit of public health.

Meanwhile, this transformation, which is seen as a great opportunity for PMI, but also for the society as a whole, can't be achieved without the backup of the scientific world.

“Indeed, Philip Morris can't be the only party involved in the journey of change,” points Younes out.

For PMI’s vision to come to life, an open, transparent conversation with the scientific world and public health governance is a must. Therefore, PMI has asked everyone to look at all the efforts, the scientific studies and announcements they've been doing lately. Over 400 leading scientists, engineers and experts work on the development, research and scientific substantiation of these smoke-free products. And PMI keeps submitting rigorous reports and studies to help create this community of experts that will encourage smokers who can't stop smoking to rather choose smoke-free alternatives.
Because in order to phase out conventional cigarettes, the company believes it must replace them with these smoke-free products that bring about positive changes to consumers, as they offer something similar to what they look for when smoking.

The company hasn't stopped reckoning the tremendous harms of smoking and reiterates at every occasion that quitting tobacco smoking is by far the best option, which is a novelty coming from a leading tobacco company; and insists that its alternative products aren't made to encourage non-smokers or people who have quit smoking, yet they are only made for adult smokers.

However, the fact that no one can deny is that there is still one billion smokers the world over. And this number is forecast to remain steady in the years to come, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Therefore, the beginning of the course correction is to develop and market these potentially less harmful products, and that has become a clear objective for the company.


In a world where tobacco consumption is still prevalent and growing in certain areas, many experts agree that the best strategy is to offer alternative products that diminish the negative effects for health. These alternative products are of less harm to smokers.

Harm reduction is a logical thinking in public health. It is a concept that is used in different industries, i.e the automotive, when seatbelt or airbag safety were introduced, the main argument was to help increase safety on the roads.

The same concept applies to smoking. Smoking is harmful; it is addictive. The best thing one can do is not to start smoking or to stop smoking and move to alternative products that are less harmful.

The danger of smoking is known to be mainly caused to the burning of tobacco, creating combustion and therefore smoke, which contains more than 6,000 chemicals & ultrafine particles. Yet, contrary to popular belief, and according to experts, nicotine, although addictive and not risk-free, is not the primary cause of smoking-related diseases. Instead, the moment a cigarette is lit, smoke is produced that contains harmful compounds, the inhalation of which represents the resulting health risk.

This is why smoke-free products, like IQOS or other similar products, are better choices for adult smokers who would otherwise continue to smoke. It is important to note Philip Morris’ research underscores that IQOS is not risk-free and it does deliver nicotine, which is addictive. PMI wants consumers to be aware of the risks. But because IQOS heats tobacco instead of burning it, it remains a product that reduces toxicity. Also it is the company’s most advanced heated tobacco product, with similar taste and flavor characteristics of combustible cigarettes, which are important factors in encouraging smokers to convert to these potentially less-harmful products.

Conversion rates of IQOS purchasers who have fully or predominantly moved to the product have grown over time. According to a study, on average, 70 percent of the smokers who switch to IQOS abandon cigarettes. Since its launch across the markets globally, more than 16.5 million smokers have resolved to using IQOS. In this sense, IQOS managed to contribute in the decreasing of cigarette consumption in the world, and as such in the relative decrease of the harm incurred by traditional cigarettes. And the product keeps improving technologically.

It is noteworthy to mention that In April 2019, the FDA authorized the sale of PMI’s IQOS, as tobacco heating system that contains fewer toxic chemicals than cigarette smoke and many of the toxins identified are present at lower levels than in cigarette smoke.

In Conclusion, IQOS, Philip Morris International’s heat-not-burn technology is disrupting the tobacco industry and represents a shift in focus for the company from traditional cigarettes to heat-not-burn devices. The company is betting on one such product, as this comes as a best choice for smokers than traditional cigarettes, and there is no denial it is a smoking alternative that reduces the harm smoking causes in general, although IQOS is not risk free. And only in this case and from this perspective, one can say that PMI may be contributing in the betterment of public health, while it won’t stop working towards achieving its ultimate goal of a “smoke-free future.”