Article | Scientific Update | Jun 16, 2022

      Delivering a smoke-free future

      PMI is much more than a tobacco company. We want to provide adult smokers with better options than continued smoking.


      At Philip Morris International (PMI), we are transforming our company and focusing on a portfolio of smoke-free alternatives to replace cigarettes as soon as possible. For over 20 years, we’ve been working on developing and scientifically assessing products that are better alternatives to cigarettes. Products that do not burn tobacco or create cigarette smoke and, therefore, generate significantly lower levels of toxic substances compared with cigarettes.

      In 2020, we issued our Statement of Purpose, reaffirming our 2016 commitment to delivering a smoke-free future. Since 2008, we have invested more than USD 9 billion to develop, scientifically substantiate, and commercialize smoke-free products for adults who would otherwise continue to smoke, with the goal of completely ending the sale of cigarettes. Of that amount, USD 120 million went into the construction of our R&D facility, the Cube. This facility is located in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, and is focused exclusively on smoke-free alternatives.

      And our investments don’t stop there. We are also investing in our people: more than 980 scientists, engineers, technicians, and support staff work on our smoke-free portfolio.


      Sharing our science

      In 2015, we launched to publicly share with the scientific community the methods and findings related to our smoke-free alternatives. However, smoke-free products are not risk-free, and they contain nicotine, which is addictive. To identify the extent of reduction in risk compared to continued smoking, we are evaluating the risk profile of our smoke-free products using a robust scientific assessment program.


      Our smoke-free portfolio

      Our smoke-free portfolio includes heat-not-burn, e-vapor, and oral nicotine products. We have three smoke-free products in various stages of development. These products do not involve combustion of tobacco, so they generate significantly lower levels of harmful compounds compared with cigarettes. Several of our smoke-free products use, but do not burn tobacco. Two other products generate nicotine vapor through different technical solutions and do not involve tobacco. Following feedback from the 2021 consumer test of our carbon tip product, the design of our current technology has been discontinued. We are assessing alternative designs for this consumer segment.

      In line with our commitment to provide smokers who would otherwise continue to smoke with a broader range of better alternatives to cigarettes, we have launched a newly formulated nicotine pouch, which does not contain tobacco.


      PMI Science timeline showcasing the milestones in the development of our smoke-free products

      Tobacco heating systems

      We have developed several heated tobacco products (HTPs) that are commercialized as IQOS in various markets. HTPs, also known as tobacco heating systems (THS) and heat-not burn products, heat the tobacco at a temperature that allows the release of a nicotine-containing tobacco aerosol but without burning the tobacco. Because tobacco is heated and not burned, there is no smoke. The levels of harmful chemicals in the generated aerosols are significantly reduced compared to cigarette smoke.

      Initial generations of our HTPs use blade heating technology, and these are designed to be used with specific heated tobacco units. The latest addition to our HTP devices uses induction rather than a blade to heat tobacco and is commercialized as IQOS ILUMA.

      Our studies to date show that our leading tobacco heating system, while not risk-free:

      • Generates no combustion and no smoke.
      • The THS aerosol has on average 90 to 95 percent lower levels of harmful and potentially harmful constituents (HPHCs) and is less toxic than cigarette smoke in laboratory models.
      • No adverse effect on the overall indoor air quality when used in an indoor environment.
      • Two 90-day clinical studies conducted in the United States and Japan respectively, reported that adult smokers who switched completely to the THS reduced their exposure to selected HPHCs (based on the measurements of biomarkers of exposure).
      • Clinical findings from a six-month study on biomarkers of potential harm indicate that switching completely to the THS has a positive impact on adult smokers’ health.
      • Our research shows negligible interest in the THS among people who have never smoked or who have quit smoking.
      • 70 percent of adult smokers who switch to the THS use it exclusively or together with other smoke-free products.
      • The THS aerosol discolors teeth significantly less than cigarette smoke.


      A historic decision

      On July 7, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the marketing of a version of the IQOS Tobacco Heating System as a Modified Risk Tobacco Product (MRTP) with reduced exposure information. It’s the first and, so far, the only electronic nicotine product to receive such authorization. In doing so, the agency found that the issuance of the MRTP orders with reduced exposure information would be “appropriate to promote public health and is expected to benefit the health of the population as a whole.”

      The respiratory system's lungs displayed on a blue background.


      Moving beyond nicotine: Respiratory drug delivery, health, and wellness

      At PMI, we have developed a rigorous scientific assessment program to assess our smoke-free products. And in the process, we’ve developed skills, facilities, and experience that we can apply to a wider range of technologies and industries, such as respiratory drug delivery, and health and wellness. Our acquisitions in 2021 of Fertin Pharma, Vectura, and OtiTopic provide a base for building critical respiratory and oral product development capabilities, in tandem with our existing expertise.

      We believe that there are significant unmet patient needs for fast and effective treatments for cardiovascular diseases, such as myocardial infarction, and neurology, such as migraine, which can be served via innovative solutions. In the health and wellness sector, we have several initiatives looking at focus, sleep, energy, pain, and calm, notably through oral delivery. We see opportunities to deliver the positive effects of existing wellness and healthcare molecules in a fast and effective manner.

      PMI will continue to leverage science and technology to develop, assess, and commercialize less harmful alternatives to cigarettes for adults who would otherwise continue smoking. To achieve our vision of replacing cigarettes with science-based smoke-free products as soon as possible, we’re shifting our resources and have fundamentally changed both our purpose and our operations.

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