Tobacco Giant Looks To Phase Out Cigarettes With E-Cig Technology

REUTERS/Toru Hanai

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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The chief executive of Philip Morris International said he hopes new electronic cigarette technology can eventually help world governments phase out cigarettes.

The tobacco behemoth is rolling out its iQOS device in Britain after successfully introducing the product across Japan and in several European cities. Unlike a traditional e-cigarette, which vaporizes nicotine fluid, the iQOS heats tobacco leaves to create a smokeless alternative to burning cigarettes. It could potentially eliminate 90 percent of the dangers associated with smoking.

British American Tobacco (BAT) is currently testing a similar device in hopes of competing with the iQOS, reports CNBC.

Andre Calantzopoulos, CEO of Philip Morris International, says the company’s ultimate goal is to stop selling traditional cigarettes. The company produces roughly 870 billion cigarettes a year.

“I believe there will come a moment in time where I would say we have sufficient adoption of these alternative products…to start envisaging, together with governments, a phase-out period for cigarettes,” Calantzopoulos told BBC Radio 4 Wednesday. “I hope this time will come soon.”

Philip Morris plan to have the iQOS device in 20 different markets by the end of the year. In Britain, the device is expected to sell for the equivalent of roughly $56, with the accompanying tobacco sticks branded HEETS, costing the equivalent of roughly $10 a pack, reports Reuters.

The iQOS device is outperforming the hopes of Philip Morris in Japan, accounting for 4.3 percent of Japan’s overall tobacco sales as of October. BAT will release a similar device Dec. 12 in Sendai, Japan, called the “glo,” to compete with the iQOS.

Glo will operate much like the iQOS device, using sticks resembling cigarettes that are inserted into a heating device. The device will sell for the equivalent of $77 in Japan and the accompanying tobacco sticks called “Kent Neostiks” will sell in Japan for about $4. After the initial test trial in Sendai, BAT hopes to begin a national roll out of its device in Japan.

Philip Morris remains ahead of the competition and will begin the process of introducing the device into the U.S. market next year.

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