Tobacco Giant Looks To Open US Market To New Cigarette Alternative

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Tobacco giant Philip Morris International plans to roll out a smoking alternative different from traditional electronic cigarettes, ahead of a ruling from health regulators.

Philip Morris wants to introduce its iQOS device, a one of a kind product, into the U.S. following successes this year during test trials in Japan and a number of European cities. Unlike an e-cigarette, which vaporizes nicotine fluid, the iQOS heats tobacco leafs to create a smokeless alternative to burning cigarettes. The HeatSticks resemble short cigarettes and will be branded as Marlboro HEETS, reports Bloomberg.

Philip Morris plans to submit a premarket tobacco product application (PMTA) early next year which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has 180 days to review. The FDA must rule that the device is “appropriate for the protection of the public health,” before the product can enter the U.S. market.

IQOS Vape Device Review - Part 1 of 2 (Vape Ninja/YouTube/Screenshot)

IQOS Vape Device Review – Part 1 of 2 (Vape Ninja/YouTube/Screenshot)

Pending approval from the FDA, Philip Morris will begin to introduce the product into the U.S. The company will also submit a modified risk application to the FDA by the end of this year, which would potentially allow Philip Morris to market the iQOS device as a safer alternative to smoking. This process can take up to 360 days and Philip Morris will not necessarily wait for the ruling before launching U.S. sales.

Japan is currently the only country where the device is nearly universally accessible and it is already making an impressive dent in tobacco sales. Philip Morris began a national roll out in mid-April, and as of September, the iQOS device and HeatSticks accounted for 4.1 percent of Japan’s overall tobacco sales, reports Fortune.

“The figures clearly show that iQOS is stealing a chunk of the rolled tobacco market,” Masashi Mori, analyst at Credit Suisse Securities in Tokyo, told Fortune.

Philip Morris has already invested $3 billion into producing smoking alternatives and hopes revenue from these devices will reach 1.2 billion by 2020.

Philip Morris aims to produce roughly 32 billion HeatSticks next year for distribution, up from 7 billion this year.

(Editor’s Note: This story has been updated)

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