There was a time not long ago, (perhaps even still), when Philip Morris, the world’s second-largest tobacco company (80.1 billion USD 2014) was paying brand ambassadors or “freelancers” 50 British Pounds, the equivalent of about 67 US Dollars to persuade users to quit their habit of using traditional tobacco cigarettes.
“We are absolutely serious— one day we want to stop selling cigarettes,” said Peter Nixon, the UK and Ireland managing director for Philip Morris.
Mr. Nixon describes a freelancer as, “someone who helps people give up cigarettes because for people who have been smoking for many, many years, to change that habit is not easy. Freelancers take them through a seven-day programme (UK English), like a coach. Each day the freelancers help them through this change.”
Quite fortuitously, last year, while buying up major vape chains across the United States, Philip Morris International (PMI) launched a “heat not burn” product in the UK and has stated that they have observed an “unprecedented” sales growth since. We can only imagine what “unprecedented” means in monetary terms to a company as ginormous as Philip Morris.
As the name suggests, in comparison to flicking your Bic lighter and holding it steady against your Marlboro cigarette, PMI’s new (10 years in the making) heat not burn range allows users to ingest their nicotine without the smoke, making it significantly less harmful than a traditional cigarette.
“Our main objective is to help people move away from cigarettes,” says Mr. Nixon. “Products like this are an absolute game changer for the industry and they’re really going to help people stop smoking.”
While the heated tobacco range is already on sale in more than a dozen overseas markets including Japan, Italy, and Switzerland, it has yet to hit US markets due to an extensive application process called, Premarket Tobacco Application, otherwise known as, PMTA. Although, before the FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb pushed back the deadline for PMTA submittals; PMI/Altria was said to have already submitted a 2-3 million page MRTP application for their IQOS (heat-not-burn device) to the FDA for approval which many vape advocates and aficionados believe will be approved in the coming years.
It just strikes me as odd that if big tobacco was so concerned with people and getting them to kick their deadly habit, then why buy up the competition, (i.e vape companies), then go ahead and market a similar device, calling it a game changer?
I guess it shouldn’t strike me as odd because at the end of the day— it’s just business, right?
While PMI does not use the word vape, vaping or e-cigarette anywhere on their IQOS web page, the device appears to operate in a very similar way to an e-cigarette device.
Straight from the IQOS page:
IQOS is a tobacco heating system with three main components – a heated tobacco unit (called HEETS or HeatSticks), an IQOS holder, and a charger.
To use IQOS, a consumer inserts the heated tobacco unit into the IQOS holder, which contains an electronically controlled heater.
The consumer pushes a button to turn on the heater and then draws on the heated tobacco unit to enjoy the real taste of heated tobacco (nicotine contained within). Once the heated tobacco unit is finished, the consumer removes it from the holder, and then it can be disposed of safely in a waste bin. When needed, the consumer recharges the holder by inserting it into the charger.
Although not mentioned as this is purely conjectured on my part, PMI’s aforementioned seven-day program where a brand ambassador or freelancer works closely with habitual smokers is PURE GENIUS. I feel this concept is brilliant due to the simple, all-knowing fact that it is virtually impossible to kick a habit in seven days, especially one as potent as cigarette use. With these paid brand ambassadors working closely with smokers, it allows PMI to field test their new heat-not-burn device, collect data and then market it to eventually be sold to the masses all in the name of… wait for it… health.
Read more here.
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