Philip Morris Wants Smokers To Heat Up Tobacco, Not Burn It

Image courtesy of Adam Fagen

Tobacco giant Philip Morris is working on the future of smoking, and it’s not cigarettes or vaping. The company is investing heavily in a product with the baffling name IQOS, a device that lets users heat up and inhale mini stacks of tobacco, without actually setting them on fire. Will “reduced harm” products like this catch on with the public all over the world?

Don’t confuse IQOS with vaping: the product is marketed toward smokers who are interested in cutting down their health risk from smoking, but who aren’t ready to give up the flavor and feel of actual tobacco yet. Vaping liquids may or may not contain nicotine, but aren’t made from tobacco leaves.

The IQOS system has a device that’s a little bit like an e-cigarette, which heats up mini tobacco sticks that are about half the size of a normal cigarette. Users heat up the sticks with their device and smoke without really smoking: the device is considered a hybrid between e-cigarettes and the analog type.

Philip Morris also sees the product as a potentially profitable one. In a presentation to investors in Switzerland recently, the company laid out its plans for the IQOS. It will be available in 35 countries in 2017, and the company believes that “reduced-risk” products like it will eventually replace old-fashioned cigarettes.

One key feature: since the product are so new, not all countries tax them in the same way as cigarettes, creating an interesting opening in the market.

Will people use them as a tool to quit, or just to smoke in a way that seems less risky? We’ll find out, especially once the IQOS spreads to more countries.

Philip Morris Sees $1.2 Billion Boost From Cigarette Alternative