Today (January 24th 2018) and tomorrow (January 25th 2018) are big days for the tobacco industry as the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee, an advisory panel of the United States Food and Drug Administration, will hold a two-day session on whether or not to consider the Marlboro-branded product called, IQOS, to be sold in the U.S. market.
What is an IQOS device?
According to Philip Morris International, “at the heart of IQOS are sophisticated electronics that heat specially designed heated tobacco units. IQOS heats the tobacco just enough to release a flavorful nicotine-containing vapor but without burning the tobacco. PMI says the tobacco in a cigarette burns at temperatures in excess of 600 degrees Celsius, generating smoke that contains harmful chemicals. What distinguishes the IQOS device is that it heats tobacco to much lower temperatures, up to 350 degrees Celsius, without combustion, fire, ash, or smoke, “thus” eliminating much if not all of the carcinogens.
How does the IQOS work?
According to Philip Morris International, “the IQOS has three main components— a heated tobacco unit called HEETS or HeatSticks, an IQOS holder and a charger. Usage requires that a consumer insert the heated tobacco unit into the IQOS holder, push a button to activate the heater and then draw on the heated tobacco unit to enjoy the real taste of heated tobacco.
Philip Morris says that it has already sold their IQOS product to 3.7 million people in Canada, Colombia, France, Britain, and Spain,” according to an NBC news publication.
Approximately 15 percent of the population or roughly 48 million adults smoke in the U.S and government officials are saying they are unclear if a device that heats tobacco without burning translates into lower rates of disease for smokers who switch.
Questionable areas in a briefing document Philip Morris provided to the committee has been highlighted by the FDA. According to the FDA, the studies were not designed to be representative of all smokers in the U.S. A light smoker (less than 10 cigarettes per day) or non-daily smokers were not recruited in PMI’s earlier studies.
The FDA goes on to say, “the health benefit of reducing cigarette consumption instead of quitting completely, is unclear.”
If you recall, Philip Morris went public with their New Year’s resolution which said they were “trying to give up cigarettes”, which is what has health researchers confused as the IQOS device that PMI is marketing appears to shoot for a very different end result.
“Philip Morris’s claim is misleading,” says University of North Carolina Public Health Researcher, Noel Brewer. “For an exposure modification order, an applicant must demonstrate that consumers will not be misled into believing the product is less harmful than another product. Purportedly, the study in the application submitted by Philip Morris shows the consumers were misled into believing the IQOS device is less harmful than cigarettes.”
Independent research has revealed higher levels of harmful chemicals released when using the IQOS than Philip Morris claims.
“This is something that requires careful FDA review says,” The American Lung Associations Erika Sward. “The tobacco company’s data only compares heavy smokers to people using the new product, which may not represent most of the U.S. smoking market.”
Philip Morris believes its IQOS device is the closest thing to the real taste of tobacco and the experience of a traditional cigarette. The understanding that humans are creatures by habit has PMI convinced that their IQOS will attract smokers for the simple fact that the device provides an experience almost identical with smoking traditional cigarettes.
Suffice to say, the world is eager to hear what comes from this two-day meeting.
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