Here at ECCR we have been tracking the path of the Philip Morris IQOS heat not burn cigarette for several years now. The IQOS is a better powered electronic smoking device that heats tobacco but does not burn it. What you do is take a cigarette and insert it into the IQOS which then heats the tobacco in the cigarette to the point of vaporization. Some studies indicate that vaporized tobacco reduces the level of harmful toxins when compared to smoking. As a result Philip Morris views heat not burn technology as a harm reduction tobacco product.
An IQOS cigarette is not like a regular cigarette. The tobacco retains more moisture vs regular cigarettes. Regular cigarettes are treated with chemicals to make it burn faster. An IQOS cigarette tobacco is designed to be heated and not burned.
The trend lines in the tobacco industry are all pointing toward harm reduction products. There are a number of devices from e-cigarettes to vaporizers to heat not burn cigarettes but all essentially accomplish the same thing which is no combustion.
The IQOS cigarette has been a huge success in Japan ad in some European countries. It is now used by an estimated 2 million people. The next phase of expansion for Philip Morris is Korea. The early marketing in North Korea has been very successful as Philip Morris has been able to generate a buzz. How? By creating a buzz calling IQOS the iPhone of cigarettes. Philip Morris Korea is going all in.
“Today is a revolutionary day in Korea’s tobacco industry,” said Chong Il-woo, CEO of Philip Morris Korea during a press event in Seoul. “We dream of a completely smoke-free society where IQOS will be able to replace all traditional cigarettes.”
Has Big Tobacco identified heat not burn as the product that they can advance to oppose e-cigarettes? Let’s face it, Big Tobacco is so far behind the curve on vaping they would be playing catchy up for over a decade to make a dent. With heated tobacco and distribution not to mention friends in high places, perhaps heat not burn will be where this is going.
IQOS has not yet been introduced to the US. Thus far, however, it has proven to be successful in the markets where it has been launched. Time will tell how IQOS performs in Korea.