The tobacco-heating appliance is available in 50 markets worldwide, including the US.
IQOS is part of a portfolio that is starting the move towards your vision of a smoke-free future. How does a traditional cigarette maker transform itself towards this goal?
We have transformed by setting ourselves a new vision ten years ago, and then adjusting each step towards that goal. We hire scientists, train our staff that work in the traditional business, engaged innovative people to help us with their ideas, invest billions of dollars in new, smokeless, less harmful choices than cigarettes… Years of scientific research prove to us that products like IQOS are better consumer health options than continuing to smoke, give us credibility and wind in our sails for the goal of one day replacing cigarettes with new tobacco-free products.
How do you respond to the statement that, while advocating a world without tobacco smoke, you do not stop producing traditional cigarettes?
According to the World Health Organization, right now there are 1.1 billion smokers in the world. These people smoke cigarettes despite bans, campaigns and high prices. It is clear, then, that if we stopped production tomorrow, the demand for cigarettes would not cease immediately but consumers would switch to the cigarettes available to them, which unfortunately often means black market products.
It is therefore our obligation to constantly inform smokers about less harmful options – from quitting to smokeless products, which are based on comprehensive research and backed by scientific evidence. We are absolutely committed to a smoke-free future, but the more help we have from the professional public, media and regulatory, the faster cigarettes will become history.
IQOS is coming to the US market in the midst of an e-cigarette crisis. What is the similarity and what is the difference between IQOS and e-cigarettes?
Both products are better options than continuing to smoke cigarettes, if they are science-based and commercialized in responsible way of course. The main difference is that IQOS is a device that heats real tobacco sticks, especially processed to release up to 95% less harmful substances than cigarette smoke. Electronic cigarettes, on the other hand, produce aerosol from liquid that contains nicotine. Another big and very important difference is that IQOS is the only device in both categories that has received approval to commercialize in USA from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The e-cigarette crisis has highlighted in a more difficult way the problem users are facing with the availability of the illegal market products which contained harmful substances. US regulators are now more strict than ever in demanding that to enter or remain on the market, all alternative products must pass rigorous controls and obtain authorization for commercialization from the FDA, which we have already successfully completed.
In 2019, you initiated the global “Unsmoke your world” campaign. What is the main goal of this campaign?
We believe that carrying out the message on which this campaign rests will eradicate the problem of smoking. “If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you smoke, quit. If you don’t quit, change.” The first two parts of the message are clear and long known and recognized, the third is innovative and offers a solution for one billion smokers who are not ready to give up their habbit.
To be ready to “change”, people must be free from the fear of innovation and scepticism towards scientifically proven, better alternatives. “Unsmoke” therefore encourages dialogue based on information and science, and invites smokers, non-smokers, their families and friends to become “unsmokers” together.