Philip Morris Wants its Customers to Quit Smoking
Philip Morris International (PMI) is telling its customers to stop buying its cigarettes and quit smoking. But why would one of the world’s biggest cigarette manufacturers want people to stop buying its tobacco products? Well, it seems PMI is now realising that heated tobacco products (HTPs) and vaping are the future.
It only takes a quick look at PMI’s website to see the direction the company is moving. Its smoke-free vision and products feature prominently on the home page and throughout the site.
It’s a smart move for the huge American corporation which has been producing, among other brands, Marlboro cigarettes since 1904. Instead of fighting the trend that people are increasingly looking for less harmful alternatives to smoking, PMI is actively embracing the shift.
This strategy to “unsmoke” the world seems to be paying off. In its 2019 first-quarter earnings report, PMI’s total sales growth was 1.7%, driven by a 34.6% increase in heated tobacco unit sales.
According PMIs website, 7.3 million adult smokers have quit smoking and switched to its flagship HTP, the IQOS. Not only that, PMI is also making a big move into e-cigarettes and vaping.
Heated tobacco products (HTPs) vs e-cigarettes
It’s understandable that PMI started with HTPs as they complement the corporation’s background in tobacco. However, according to the World Health Organization:
“Currently, there is no evidence to demonstrate that HTPs are less harmful than conventional tobacco products. Some tobacco industry-funded studies have claimed that there are significant reductions in the formation of and exposure to harmful and potentially harmful constituents relative to standard cigarettes. However, there is currently no evidence to suggest that reduced exposure to these chemicals translates to reduced risk in humans. Therefore, additional independent studies will be required to substantiate claims of reduced risk/harm.”
Furthermore, a swiss lab found that dangerous toxins, named isocyanates, are released from IQOS polymer filters when they are heated above 100 degrees Celsius. Though the study did not investigate whether the isocyanates are inhaled by the user, and PMI has said itself that they aren’t, it’s still not the best news for the device.
As such, PMI is hedging its bets with two e-cigarette products, which generate a vapour containing nicotine without the use of tobacco. The IQOS MESH is currently available in the UK and uses pre-filled, flavored e-liquid cartridges called “VEEV” containing nicotine. Another e-cig-type product still under development by PMI is named STEEM. STEEM looks to be a nicotine salt delivery system which will likely be marketed as a nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).
Is this all good or bad news for bottled e-liquid industry players?
While it’s always good news that alternatives to smoking are being advocated and embraced by governments and big business (particularly tobacco big business), e-cigarettes and e-liquids are still a much safer option compared to HTPs. According to Professor Kevin Fenton, Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England (PHE):
“Smoking remains England’s number one killer and the best thing a smoker can do is to quit completely, now and forever.
E-cigarettes are not completely risk free but when compared to smoking, evidence shows they carry just a fraction of the harm. The problem is people increasingly think they are at least as harmful and this may be keeping millions of smokers from quitting. Local stop smoking services should look to support e-cigarette users in their journey to quitting completely.”
HTPs and closed pod vape pens will likely always have a market, particularly among those who are taking their first steps to quit smoking, but vaping enthusiasts tend to prefer mods and tanks filled with either 10ml or larger shortfill e-juice. This is because the vapour and flavour production is much greater giving vapers a much more enjoyable experience overall.
This means that wholesale bottled e-liquid manufacturers, suppliers and retailers will still command the lion share of core vaping enthusiasts, and core vaping enthusiasts will still be on the lookout for the best bottled e-juices at the best prices to fill up their tanks with.
As more and more evidence mounts that vaping is safer than both HTPs and smoking and is one of the best ways to quit smoking, it looks like wholesale bottled e-liquid manufacturers, suppliers and retailers are in the right industry at the right time. In a way, we are all joining in PMI’s smoke-free vision and making the world a healthier place, but doing it a little better.