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Philip Morris International Plans E-Cigarette with Real Tobacco

By Raymond Polidori

Monday August 25, 2014
Marlboro has a new e-cigarette that vaporizes real tobacco, they call it the Heatstick

With technology driving new products and new e-cigarette brands to the e-cigarette market, Philip Morris International is getting ready to deliver a new e-cig that they call Marlboro Heatsticks, e-cigarettes that heat up real tobacco. Of all the types of cigarettes they have developed, this project is something the tobacco giant has been working on for a very long time and invested a significant amount of money in.

As with all product leaps, the timing has to be right for a new product both in terms of technology and the marketplace. Philip Morris International thinks that time is now and they are ready to bring smokers a new spin on the electronic cigarette.

It is no coincidence that they are doing this as e-cigarette sales have passed the $3 billion a year mark. This is the time to get in on this movement and, hopefully, bring something new and exciting to the table.

After spending over $2 billion and a decade on its development, Marlboro Heatsticks will be introduced in limited markets later this year. The fundamental concept of these devices lies in heating real tobacco to 660 degrees Fahrenheit in a hollow pen-like device that they call an iQOS.

The result of heating tobacco in an iQOS is nicotine vapor that tastes like an analogue cigarette, but is supposedly a “reduced risk” device.

Even though Philip Morris International’s CEO André Calantzopoulos gave a far-ranging interview in this Forbes India article, he didn’t really get into the specifics behind the product and how they could be a better option.

He did claim that the vapor from real tobacco would be more similar to the feel smokers are used to, both with the flavor and the nicotine hit. But beyond that, we are left with few facts or data about this huge new enterprise.

What we do come away with, however, is an even stronger feeling that the e-cigarette movement has really taken hold. It is doing that at a speed that most people don’t fully comprehend.

It used to be a narrow field without different types of cigarettes, but that has changed.

Traditional tobacco smoking is on its way to becoming an old fad, and now technology is kick starting the race to get there.

Tobacco companies have come to terms with that and now have to deal with the changing of their industry away from traditional analogue cigarettes.

Some are looking at e-cigarette brands as a way to survive, either creating their own brands or purchasing existing ones.

Philip Morris International has opted for something else, coming up with new technology that they think can trump existing e-cig technology. Of course they also snatched up e-cig maker Nicocigs recently, which goes to show you they are making sure to hedge their bets.

At stake is a market that is still buying six trillion cigarettes each year worldwide. Even with smoking rates down to all-time lows, that is a lot people who are reaching for a way to get their nicotine fix. As Daniel Fisher writes, “if PMI’s tobacco heater attracts even a 5 percent share, that would boost profits, already a hefty $8.6 billion, by more than $1 billion a year.”

iqos-marlboro heatstick e-cigaretteAll the while pushing the idea of new “healthier” cigarette that could affect a huge public health problem. Lets not forget that smokers dying as a result of tobacco smoke isn’t a good thing for cigarette makers either.

They lose a valuable customer that currently contributes to their profits and they take another black eye for their image.

Wouldn’t cutting that down while still streaming in sales be the ideal for tobacco companies such as Philip Morris International?

The obstacle they face is the same one other e-cigarette brands have faced, the ones bandied about in arguments against e-cigarettes in general. Alarmists fear that devices that appear to be healthier than regular tobacco cigarettes will actually attract new users.

The underlying theory would be that people are put off by the health concerns about smoking would be happy to pick up a “healthier” version if it is out there. This is all talk based on no data at all, while at the same time millions of people die every year from the effects of cigarette smoke. We should be looking at every possibility to cut down on that and doing it with actual facts.

The huge profit potential here seems to be helping things along, pushing for a more diverse tobacco and nicotine industry. Dollars are a great driver of innovation, and here the survival of the industry as a whole relies on it evolving into something else. As we see with new ideas like Marlboro Heatsticks, there is still a lot of room for e-cigarettes to expand even further and offer smokers the real alternative they are looking for.




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