Phillip Morris has launched a new cigarette product in the UK market that it claims to be healthier than its conventional tobacco products. Its smokeless cigarette is described by some as a “hybrid between analogs and electronic cigarettes.”
The Marlboro-maker tobacco giant’s product heats tobacco rather than burning it and the company claims that it delivers the same nicotine hit, but 90% less of the nasty toxins that are part and parcel of cigarette smoke.
Though its trials have not yet been verified externally, the company claims that the new cigarette has the same impact as quitting smoking.
Philip Morris International (PMI), has reportedly spent $3bn (£2.4bn) on creating the substitute cigarette, the Iquos, which is the result of over ten years of research.
The company has a lot riding on its new product, especially in view of its traditional tobacco sales, which have been steadily declining in developed countries over the past years. This can be attributed in large part to sustained public health campaigns, rising tobacco tariffs and marketing restrictions.
According to PMI’s chief executive, Andre Calantzopoulos, the company would like to work with government towards the “phase-out” of conventional cigarettes. He told the Today program in his first UK broadcast interview that that the company is well aware that its products harm consumers, and that the right thing to do is “to find and commercialise” ones that are less harmful.
But anti-smoking campaigners like Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), argues that products such as Iqos, like tobacco, need tough regulation. “We still need to be very cautious about what the industry’s up to,” she said. “Philip Morris is a tobacco company. They are still making most of their profits from selling cigarettes. On current trends, smoking will kill one billion people in the 21st century, most in poor countries. If Philip Morris really want to see the end of smoking they have to stop promoting smoking to new young smokers around the world.”