Last month, the US Food and Drug Administration FDA authorised the marketing of new tobacco products manufactured by one of the world’s largest cigarette manufacturers, Philip Morris International.

Branded a novel tobacco product, Philip Morris International’s electrically heated – heat not burn – tobacco system, or IQOS, is the first electrically heated tobacco product to qualify for sale in the US. The FDA’s decision follows its comprehensive assessment of PMI’s premarket tobacco product applications filed with the Agency back in 2017.

Unlike cigarettes, the IQOS system electrically heats, but does not burn, tobacco and offers a less harmful alternative to cigarettes. The FDA noted that the carbon monoxide emissions from an IQOS device is comparable to environmental exposure and the levels of various substances are significantly lower than the combustible cigarettes. Therefore, FDA argues that IQOS is appropriate for the protection of public health.

IQOS is already available in 44 countries, including 19 EU countries, and in just two years 7.3 million adult smokers have chosen to switch from combustible cigarettes to this product.

This milestone decision by FDA will now make this opportunity available to the approximately 40 million American adult smokers. While some will and do quit, most won’t, and for them IQOS offers a smoke-free alternative to continued smoking.

On hearing the FDA’s announcement, PMI’s chief executive officer, André Calantzopoulos, said: “This decision by the FDA is a historic milestone. All of us at PMI are determined to replace cigarettes with smoke-free alternatives that combine sophisticated technology and intensive scientific validation. Furthermore, Phillip Morris fully supports the stringent marketing guidelines and requirements as laid down by the FDA.”

At present, IQOS is prohibited in Malta under a general ban on smokeless tobacco products.

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