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IQOS, the new “heat not burn” tobacco device, explained.

The tobacco giant Philip Morris is hoping to sell Americans on a new way to puff on tobacco. It’s not an e-cigarette; rather, it’s a “heat not burn” smokeless tobacco device called IQOS that’s already available in more than 25 countries.

IQOS, which is pen-shaped and comes with an iPod-like recharger, vaporizes mini tobacco sticks by heating them. Philip Morris claims this cuts users’ exposure to the carcinogens created when tobacco is burned, and that it could save the lives of smokers. Critics worry the company’s slick packaging and marketing around IQOS seems more geared toward grabbing the attention of youth than helping wean longtime smokers off cigarettes.

This week, an independent panel of experts at the Food and Drug Administration is discussing IQOS’s potential health impact, and whether Philip Morris’s claims are backed by scientific data. By the end of Thursday, the panel is expected to vote on whether IQOS (pronounced “eye-kose”) should be allowed to enter the US market, where the company says it could help 6 million smokers quit. The FDA may or may not follow the panel’s advice.

Whatever the outcome of the meeting, however, the panel’s decision is being viewed as a test case for the growing market of cigarette alternatives. If the panel approves IQOS and FDA takes its recommendation (it usually does), the device would be the first tobacco product marketed under a “modified risk” claim in the US.


PMI.COM

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