Cigarette makers face a depressed market. In France, cigarette sales have decreased by almost 50% in a little more than 15 years. Trying to answer growing health concerns, Philip Morris has launched last May in France IQOS. This is a tobacco product which, contrary to traditional cigarettes, do not reach its combustion point. Simply heated at 300°C, it generates a tobacco vapor.
Japan Tobacco International with Ploom, British American Tobacco with Glo and Philip Morris with IQOS. All the market leaders have been exploring this idea for a little bit over 2 years. These heat sticks do not produce ashes nor smoke and less smell.
For the tobacco industry this product could ‘potentially be significally less harmful than traditional cigarettes’ says Tommaso Di Giovanni from Philip Morris based on internal studies.
We should however remain cautious because these arguments ‘have absolutely not been proven’, tells us Albert Hirsch, a pulmonology teacher. “The tobacco industry already did something similar 40 years ago with filters. Then low-tar cigarettes and we realized these products carried major risks so let’s be wary’, explains Yves Martinet, a pulmonologist and former president of the Alliance against Tobacco (ACT).
Last argument against the heat stick: it is made to ‘create addiction’ according to Professor Dautzenberg. Contrary to an electronic cigarette, ‘once lit, you must take the 1à to 15 puffs within 5 minutes’. This leads to ‘nicotine peaks’ which foster addiction.