Is IQOS Safer Than Conventional Cigarettes?
Philip Morris International [PMI] launched one of its products in 2014. The IQOS is a heat not burn product that the PMI claims to be safer compared to conventional cigarettes. IQOS heats tobacco and does not burn it.
IQOS is available in over 40 countries, including the US, the UK, United Arab Emirates, Dubai, etc. The Food and Drug Administration [FDA] through its report indicated that since IQOS heats tobacco instead of burning it, it produces lower levels of toxic chemicals, hence making it safer than conventional cigarettes or vapes.
This is perhaps the main reason why the FDA approved IQOS to be sold in the US. This means that PMI can now market their product in the US and the UK without any restrictions.
But how exactly does IQOS works, and why did the FDA make this move?
The IQOS is a heat-not-burn tobacco product. It is believed that these heat-not-burn products, such as the IQOS, could be between conventional cigarettes and vaping products.
The IQOS uses disposable tobacco sticks, also known as HEETS, which are heated to 350 C to produce vapor but does not burn. According to PMI, the tobacco sticks contain processed tobacco together with other few components, such as glycerin, water, and cellulose fibers.
The HEETS or the tobacco sticks are put into a holder which heats the tobacco via the heating blade, which can be controlled electronically.
The tobacco is heated up to 350° C, which is enough to produce a vapor, but not sufficient to burn it. The conventional cigarettes burn at a temperature of 600° C. IQOS also comes with a charger to charge the electronic holder.
The IQOS is quite different from the e-cigarette. That’s because the e-cig tends to heat up and vaporize a liquid, which normally contains nicotine. The IQOS, on the other hand, heats real tobacco. Another main difference between the two is that IQOS just comes with a regular tobacco flavor or menthol flavor, while e-cigarettes come in various flavors.
Philip Morris International claims that since the IQOS does not burn the tobacco, it releases very lower levels of toxic chemicals that are typically found in tobacco smoke. Additionally, the company claims that smokers can use this product to quit smoking conventional cigarettes, and that this product lowers the risk of tobacco-related health issues.
However, the FDA panel noted that the company had not provided sufficient evidence to show that indeed the product lowers the health issues compared to conventional cigarettes. But FDA, through their report in 2018, endorsed the claim that IQOS releases fewer levels of harmful chemicals compared with conventional cigarettes. This is why they approved its sale in the United States.
Theoretically, the IQOS could be safer than traditional cigarettes since they don’t lead to the burning of tobacco. However, there is not enough evidence that IQOS users will experience less risk from using the product. In addition to that, it is still not clear whether or not smokers can use IQOS to help them quit smoking tobacco.