A recent announcement by Philip Morris International has many people scratching their heads. They made a surprising New Year’s resolution this week, suggesting that they would like to kick tobacco and exit the cigarette business entirely. With iconic brands such as Marlboro and Parliament in their portfolio, PMI is synonymous with cigarettes, raising a host of questions about the direction the company will take to maintain their market share and attract new, younger consumers.
“We’ve built the world’s most successful cigarette company, with the world’s most popular and iconic brands,” Philip Morris says on its website.
Now we’ve made a dramatic decision. We will be far more than a leading cigarette company. We’re building PMI’s future on smoke-free products that are a much better choice than cigarette smoking.
Alternative Products in the Pipeline
While the announcement may come as a surprise to many, the plan to move away from tobacco and into the arena of smoke-free products has been in the works for some time; with the goal being to replace cigarettes with a product of their own that is comparable to traditional smoking. The Motley Fool reported on Philip Morris’s shift towards reduced risk products in April 2017.
Philip Morris is now seeking FDA approval for a new tobacco delivery system (iQOS) that looks similar to an electronic cigarette, currently marketed in Italy and Japan. Unlike most modern e-cigarettes, however, it uses real tobacco that is heated rather than burned, reducing exposure to harmful substances while maintaining a similar experience to traditional, combustible tobacco cigarettes.
According to statements, Phillip Morris’s IQOS is the result of over ten years of research and development and an investment of around $3 billion since 2008. While scientists in the industry admit that a reduction in toxic emissions is possible with a device like the IQOS, it doesn’t necessarily equate to less tobacco related health risks. Only time will tell; and that’s the sticking point for approval. If they are successful, they will have sole rights to market iQOS in the U.S.
IQOS – Competition for Vaping Industry?
Details about the specific technologies incorporated into the IQOS are unclear, but from the limited information that we do have, it certainly doesn’t appear to work muc differently than the existing dry herb vaporizers on the market.
Dry herb vaporizers ARE NOT electronic cigarettes, and for the most part, the two products have completely separate markets. But that could change with a huge, MULTI-BILLION dollar corporation behind it. And that corporation just so happens to have direct access to millions of tobacco and nicotine users. Up until now, most vaporizers have been marketed to a small, niche group of “herbal” smokers. But Phillip Morris will be targeting a completely different type of customer; namely, the type of customers that make-up the entire vapor market – former smokers.
While the search for a perfect replacement for traditional cigarettes marches on, one thing certain; electronic cigarette companies and vapor product manufacturers will need to be on heightened alert to the direction of Philip Morris’s IQOS and other cigarette manufacturers in the years to come.