Philip Morris has launched IQOS, its first smokeless cigarette, in the UK
Marlboro-maker Philip Morris International (PMI) has launched its smokeless cigarette IQOS in the UK market.
Unlike electronic cigarettes, which vapourise nicotine suspended in a liquid, this alternative product heats tobacco enough to produce a vapour without burning it, which the company believes makes it much less harmful.
The vapour still contains nicotine but yields on average less than 10 per cent of the levels of harmful ingredients as traditional cigarette smoke while still producing the taste of tobacco.
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The £45 product is only available in central London for now, but the company plans to sell nationwide in 2017.
Tobacco sticks are sold separately, with a pack of 20 costing you £8.
The cigarette maker has received more than $3bn (£2.4bn) in investment to date and has put more than a decade of research and development into the product.
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Commenting on the research studies, PMI director of scientific engagement, Dr Moira Gilchrist said:
The data to date clearly points in the direction of risk reduction. The scientific research is complemented by our early commercial experience where, in less than two years, more than one million adult smokers have stopped smoking, switching from cigarettes to IQOS.
The "reduced risk" product is already on sale in more than 10 countries including Japan, Switzerland and Italy, and PMI reports more than one million cigarette smokers have switched to IQOS since its initial pilot launch.
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Martin Inkster, managing director of Philip Morris UK and Ireland, said IQOS marks a milestone toward replacing cigarettes with non-combustible alternatives for British consumers.
It is symbolic that we are opening our first IQOS store in central London, just around the corner from where Mr Philip Morris opened his first tobacco shop in 1847.
The world's largest international tobacco company said it could eventually stop selling traditional cigarettes in an interview on BBC Radio 4.
Shane MacGuill, head of tobacco at Euromonitor International, said the comments suggest governments could intervene to encourage consumers to transition to lower risk products, either through differential taxation or regulation.
For any alternative nicotine delivery offering to be effective, two aspects are required – a substantial reduction in harm to the consumer and a profile which appeals to existing users of traditional cigarettes. In the iQOS, PMI clearly believes it has the potential to deliver on both requirements but ultimately the consumer will decide.
Action on Smoking Health said until independent evidence shows the product and ones like it are substantially less harmful than smoking, they should be regulated in the same way.