Philip Morris has launched its IQOS smokeless cigarette in the UK, adding to the product's presence in more than a dozen other markets overseas, including Japan and Italy, City AM reports. The cigarette alternative heats up just enough tobacco without burning it to create a vapor, leading to a strong flavor and a nicotine content that's said to be less than 10% of traditional cigarettes, the company notes. And per Andre Calantzopoulos, the company's CEO, that's opened the door even further to the idea that Philip Morris may one day get out of the cigarette business altogether, he told BBC Radio 4 Wednesday. "I believe there will come a moment in time where I would say we have sufficient adoption of these alternative products … to start envisaging ... a phase-out period for cigarettes," he said, per Reuters. "I hope this time will come soon."
Per the Wall Street Journal, alternatives like IQOS could help tobacco companies offer a product that's both enjoyable to smoke and presumably safer than traditional cigarettes. E-cigs vaporize nicotine in liquid, but some users say they don't offer a strong-enough "hit." The IQOS product, however, heats tobacco in mini "HeatSticks" to about 660 degrees Fahrenheit (regular cigs can reach nearly 1500 degrees)—hot enough to deliver tobacco flavor, but without smoke and tar, Vape Ranks notes. Reuters notes Philip Morris, which makes most of the world's Marlboro cigarettes, still pulls in most of its profit from regular cigarettes, but Calantzopoulos says it's funneled more than $2 billion into "reduced risk" products, and at least two other companies have tobacco-based smoking alternatives on shelves or in the works. (An e-cigarette shot a fireball at a girl in an Orlando theme park.)