Philip Morris International has submitted the iQOS smokeless tobacco e-cigarette for FDA approval. Many consumers know the Philip Morris brand from tobacco cigarettes like Marlboro and L&M. The iQOS is a tobacco vaporizer that works similarly to the PAX line of herbal vaporizers. It uses tobacco leaf catridges, which are heated rather than burned like a traditional cigarette.
According to Reuters, Philip Morris International is the first company to file for FDA approval since the new laws were passed in Summer 2016. According to its report:
The company’s application is the first to seek U.S. approval to market a tobacco product as being less harmful than traditional cigarettes.
If approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the company’s iQOS device could give it a significant marketing advantage over alternatives to tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, which are not allowed to make such a claim.
The iQOS is vastly different from the products that many enthusiast vapers enjoy. Instead of a flavored solution made from a base of propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerin (VG), the iQOS uses tobacco leaves. Philip Morris hopes that with FDA approval, it can legally make the claim that using its iQOS smokeless e-cig is safer than smoking tobacco cigarettes. That approval, combined with its tremendous marketing and distribution reach, would give it an advantage that can’t be matched by any vaping company.
There are some pundits that claim that heating tobacco leaves is only nominally safer than smoking them. These pundits also believe that vaping e-liquid is safer than heating or burning tobacco leaves. That said, Philip Morris International is an enormous company with resources that dwarf those of even the largest vaping companies. Nominally safer might be “good enough.”
Considering the success Philip Morris has had
paying off lobbying American government officials, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the iQOS approved by the FDA. Should that happen, things will be even tougher for vaping companies. In light of the new FDA regulations, many vaping companies have shut down or are plannning to shut down. Those that remain will have a difficult time competing with Philip Morris International’s vast financial, marketing, and distribution resources. Whether the iQOS is safer than vaping e-liquids or not, the business of offering an alternative to smoking tobacco cigarettes has become pay-to-play.