We have a vision of replacing cigarettes with better products for adults who smoke and won’t quit. To achieve this, we need to meet the range of needs and preferences of adult smokers. This is why we are developing a range of smoke-free products.
At Philip Morris International (PMI), our products involve inhalable and non-inhalable approaches to nicotine delivery, some of which contain tobacco while some do not. With a few exceptions, all our smoke-free products contain nicotine, which is addictive and not risk-free. Most of our smoke-free products fit into the inhalable category, because they produce an aerosol that is inhaled as part of the user experience.
Heated tobacco products, such as the Tobacco Heating System (THS), heat tobacco instead of burning it. This is done via an electronically controlled system using either resistive (THS 2.2) or inductive (THS 3.0) heating technology. We also recently introduced the Oven Heating System (OHS). Unlike THS, which heats the tobacco internally using a heating blade, OHS heats the tobacco from the outside of the tobacco stick. In agreement with the South Korean company KT&G, PMI also commercializes the Pin Heating System (PHS) and the Aerosol Heated Tobacco System (AHTS) outside of South Korea.
Also among the inhalable category, we offer several e-vapor products that use different aerosol generation technologies. We developed the MESH Vaping System (MVS), which uses our e-vapor mesh technology. This technology addresses certain challenges presented by some e-vapor products currently on the market. We have also developed a Disposable Vaping System (DVS), which requires no charging, cleaning, or refilling.
We have also explored different technologies to mechanically produce a nicotine-containing aerosol without tobacco, combustion, or heating. The result is the Nicotine Salts Product (NSP), which is a nicotine-based electronics-free product.
Besides inhalable products, we’ve added oral products to our portfolio too. One example is the oral nicotine pouch produced by the Danish company AG Snus, a company that was acquired by PMI in 2021. Oral nicotine pouches are placed between the gum and the cheek or upper lip, where nicotine is absorbed through the oral mucosa.
The logic behind the development of smoke-free products is centered on the problem of burning. The process of burning tobacco creates smoke, which contains thousands of chemicals. Many of those chemicals are harmful or potentially harmful. By heating tobacco at lower temperatures, heated tobacco products avoid burning the tobacco, and thus don’t create smoke.
The aerosol produced by our inhalable smoke-free products contains lower average levels of harmful chemicals compared to those found in cigarette smoke, and they also do not produce ash or carbon-based solid particles. We’ve described in detail how THS emits an aerosol that contains on average around 95% lower levels of harmful chemicals compared to the smoke of a reference 3R4F cigarette. And our oral nicotine products produce no emission at all for a user to inhale. Importantly, a reduction in the emission of harmful chemicals (or a lack of emission altogether) does not equal a reduction in risk. No smoke-free product is risk-free.
Our product assessment approach includes studies of the products’ aerosol (and comparable studies for oral products), toxicological effects, clinical outcomes, consumer perception and behavior, as well as longer-term studies of products once they’re available in the market. You can find the studies and presentations by PMI scientists in our publications library on PMIScience.com. You can also find independent studies on our products.
In the interest of reducing the harms of smoking to the population, the more people who quit smoking altogether, the better. It’s the best choice a smoker can make. For those who don’t quit, an increase in the number of people who switch to a product that presents less risk of harm compared to cigarettes is also a step toward reducing harms of smoking to the population.
Adults who smoke currently have access to a wide variety of cigarettes to choose from. Those who want to switch to a product that is a better alternative than cigarettes should have access to a variety of smoke-free options as well. Having more options makes it much easier to find an alternative that works for each individual, so they can switch completely and leave cigarettes behind.
The increase in variety of smoke-free products available to choose from carries with it another benefit that could encourage smokers to switch: variety in price. While product pricing isn’t part of our assessment program, certainly the cost of the product might influence a smoker’s choice to try and completely switch to a smoke-free alternative to cigarettes.
As we continue to add to our range of smoke-free alternatives to cigarettes, we’ll continue to scientifically assess our products to better understand their risk reduction potential. And we’ll continue to communicate our findings as they become available. In this way, we’ll do our part to provide accurate scientific information about our growing range of smoke-free products.
The Scientific Update magazine is focused on PMI's research and development efforts, milestone studies, industry regulations, and more. View the latest issue, or read the articles online.