Philip Morris International (PMI), the parent company for Marlboro and other brands, wants to stop manufacturing cigarettes. However, the company isn’t planning to get out of the tobacco business.
“If we stop selling cigarettes, someone else is going to sell them because people buy them,” Phillip Morris CEO Andre Calantzopoulos told Sky News in January. “So I don’t think that will have any impact on public health or the health of people.”
Watch the Sky News video below to hear more of what Calantzopoulos had to say:
Calantzopoulos said Phillip Morris wants to eventually produce only smoke-free products. The company’s solution is the IQOS, a smoking device that heats up the tobacco instead of burning it.
PMI claims this IQOS product creates less noxious chemicals — up to 95 percent less — compared to cigarette smoke. That could be a good thing for the health of many, especially those who will continue to smoke. Tobacco use causes more than 7 million deaths per year worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.
In a regular cigarette, the tobacco burns at temperatures in excess of 1,112 Fahrenheit, which releases high levels of chemicals, according to PMI. With the IQOS product, the tobacco is heated up to 662 Fahrenheit, and the chemical levels are lower. The company says that the burning causes the majority of harm from the chemicals and that heating should be better for user’s health.
“At the end of the day, the ambition we have is to replace cigarettes as soon as possible, with better alternatives for the people who continue smoking,” Calantzopoulos said.
But the jury is still out on smoke-free products and if they are better for health than traditional cigarettes. In March 2018, the British government agency Public Health England found that when compared to traditional cigarette smoke, the heated tobacco was less harmful to users. However, the tested heated tobacco products delivered more nicotine in aerosol than a cigalike e-cigarette, an electronic cigarette designed to look as much as a tobacco cigarette as possible, and less nicotine than a tank style e-cigarette.
But the study also noted that more evidence needs to be collected and further studies need to be done on the effects of the product. As alternatives to cigarettes, e-cigarettes have become popular on the market, especially with brands like JUUL.
In 2017, 34.3 million people were cigarette smokers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of now, IQOS is available in 45 places, including Japan, the United Kingdom, France and Italy.
In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration is considering an application to sell it as a lower-risk alternative to traditional cigarettes.