Tobacco smoking is one of the most common bad habits in the world. According to the latest WHO data, the total number of smokers in the world exceeds 1.3 billion people.
Quitting cigarette consumption can be very difficult, so in recent years, tobacco manufacturers and representatives of pharmaceutical companies have actively participated in large-scale scientific discussions on reducing the harm from smoking to reduce the negative impact of smoking traditional cigarettes on the health of cigarette consumers.
Research centers at tobacco companies
The basis for such discussions is the results of research carried out on the basis of independent scientific institutes and research departments within companies.
In an effort to maximize objectivity, the researchers recognize that cigarette consumption is addictive, and one of the accompanying effects can be the development of serious diseases. At the same time, smoking is a conscious choice of adults, so a complete ban on the use of tobacco products can hardly be considered a solution to the problem.
One of the significant discoveries in global research into harm reduction from tobacco use is that nicotine is not the cause of a large number of smoking-related illnesses. In the process of burning tobacco with smoke, more than 6,000 different chemical compounds are released, many of which are harmful and potentially harmful to health.
Thus, the way to reduce the harmful effects of tobacco products on the consumer’s body is to eliminate the combustion process and switch to alternative products that are already on the market and in which the principle of heating tobacco is applied, as a result of which the concentrations of the emitted harmful substances are significantly reduced.
More and more countries at the government level are realizing the potential benefits of switching to such technology products. Thus, in a number of statements by representatives of the ministries and departments of health of the United States, Great Britain, New Zealand and other states, it was said that the introduction of innovative technologies in the tobacco sector, including electronic cigarettes and tobacco heating systems (primarily the IQOS system), will make the consumption of nicotine safer.
Research Center at PMI
Philip Morris International’s R&D Center has been in the industry since 2008 with over 6,300 patent applications, over 4,600 approved patents, 430 active examiners and 340 peer-reviewed smokeless scientific publications.
Chart: Philip Morris International
The structure of the center is based on basic principles related to those applied, including in pharmaceutical companies – after the creation of a prototype of a product, preclinical studies are carried out, within the framework of which laboratory consumption models are developed, then these models are tested as part of clinical studies to assess the effect of the product on the body adult smoker and the level of risk reduction, then the impact of the product on various populations, including former smokers and non-smokers, is assessed. After completion of the specified work and confirmation of the product’s compliance with the requirements and recommendations of the local regulator (such as, for example, the American FDA – Food and Drug Administration), the product is introduced to the market. Then the final block of scientific work is implemented – the current assessment of the safety of the product and its relevance for making operational changes to the composition, if necessary.
Research into the company’s tobacco heating system has been carried out by, among others, laboratories at the FDA, Health Canada, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer at WHO . The results of independent studies coincided with those obtained within the company – when tobacco is heated, it emits 90% less of a number of toxic substances in comparison with ordinary cigarettes. The study compared IQOS performance to a traditional 3R4F cigarette.
The number of independent studies, including government reports, is growing from year to year in many countries around the world, expanding the accumulated evidence base with new corroborating data.
Market research in the United States and Japan, when IQOS first appeared, led to interesting results. It turned out that 98% of users of the product previously used regular cigarettes, and the percentage of those who started using IQOS without smoking experience or after several years of quitting the habit is extremely small. These data confirmed the main idea of PMI: first of all, IQOS is intended for experienced adult smokers who want to reduce the risk of illness and make their habit “less harmful”.
Chart: Philip Morris International
Conclusions and future plans
According to the latest data, nearly 8.8 million adult tobacco users worldwide have switched to IQOS and quit smoking cigarettes altogether. In April 2019, the FDA officially approved the sale of IQOS in the United States, as this decision is in line with public health goals. Thus, IQOS became the first tobacco heating system authorized for sale in the United States.
Moira Gilchrist, Vice President of Science and Strategic Communications at PMI says:
“When we first started to establish our system of scientific assessment, we analyzed the experience in other industries. Of course, the pharmaceutical industry is one of the best in delivering rigorous scientific judgment. We have adopted the ideas, principles, technologies and tools of the pharmaceutical industry and added transparency. We were confident that people would be wary of our scientific research, so we decided that our openness in publishing the results would mitigate this problem.
We share our research results with the scientific community, the medical community, and government regulatory agencies. We also shared a large body of research with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – the US Department of Health and Human Services agency for reduced risk tobacco product status – for our electronic tobacco heating systems. Our application was reviewed for two years before we were given permission to sell them in the United States.
It is very important for us to convey to smokers the information that scientific studies of products have been carried out and their conclusions are supported and accepted not only by the company itself, but also by an independent third-party organization. We are not afraid to spread information about the results of the work of our research center and we sincerely believe that we have created the best scientific base in the industry. “
The company plans to bring the number of people who switched from regular cigarettes to low-risk IQOS products to 40 million by 2025; in parallel, the company is considering the possibility of completely phasing out the production of conventional cigarettes.
This article is a partner material and pursues the socially significant goals of warning potential consumers of tobacco products about the harm caused by tobacco consumption, and educating the population and informing them about the dangers of tobacco consumption and the harmful effects of tobacco smoke on others (in accordance with Article 15 of the Federal Law of the Russian Federation “On protection of citizens’ health from exposure to second hand tobacco smoke and the consequences of tobacco consumption ”).