Philip Morris Device Criticised by Imperial Researcher
The tobacco industry’s united front is being tested as Imperial Tobacco Group takes a swipe at Philip Morris' new cigarette alternative.
The Marlboro maker claims its “iQOS” product - a black pen-shaped device that heats sticks containing tobacco - could potentially reduce risks compared with smoking because combustion isn’t involved. Imperial researchers tested the so- called “heat-not-burn” gadget and found evidence that some of the processes within a burning cigarette are still occurring.
"There’s a lot of black crud in the iQOS device after using it,” said Steve Stotesbury, the UK company’s head of scientific regulatory affairs, speaking in an interview at an industry conference in Bologna last week. “It smells like an ashtray."
The war of words is unusual, as tobacco companies normally stand together to ward off attacks from anti-smoking activists and public-health authorities who seek to place more restrictions on smoking. The fracas also comes as the world’s largest cigarette makers pursue different paths to develop healthier alternatives to smoking as sales of conventional cigarettes dwindle. Imperial is the only big industry player to turn its back on heat-not-burn technology, focusing on e- cigarettes instead.
Philip Morris is betting that its device will become more popular than e-cigarettes sold by Imperial and others because using iQOS tastes and feels more similar to smoking, it says.
“While we are pleased that Imperial now recognises the harm-reduction potential of heat-not-burn products such as iQOS, it is disappointing that they try to disparage a very promising technology for tobacco harm-reduction they do not have in their portfolio,” Philip Morris said.
Stifel Financial analyst Christopher Growe has said Philip Morris’s next-generation products could add $1.3 billion in annual operating profit within five years. PMI’s new products will have plenty of company, such as Ploom, a product by Japan Tobacco, and a device from British American Tobacco scheduled for later this year.
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