An U.S. advisory panel on Thursday rejected claims by Philip Morris International that a new smokeless cigarette it hopes to sell in the United States reduces the risk and harm of smoking.
The panel, convened by the Food and Drug Administration, agreed with the company’s claim that its smokeless cigarette reduces smokers’ exposure to harmful chemicals but said the company had not proven conclusively that that would result in less actual harm and disease.
The new technology, called IQOS, consists of a tube that gently heats up sticks of tobacco instead of burning them. By using heat instead of flame, Philip Morris claims, IQOS eradicates 90 to 95 percent of toxic compounds in cigarette smoke.
The cigarette has triggered debate and worries among health experts about whether IQOS will help or hurt public health in this country. Health advocates worry that such products could be used to attract new smokers and lure those trying to stop from quitting altogether.
The FDA is expected to decide on two key questions in coming months: Whether IQOS can be sold in the United States, and whether Philip Morris can market it as being less harmful.
If the FDA approves those health claims, IQOS would be the first tobacco product to carry the U.S. government’s stamp as a less harmful alternative to cigarettes – a potential marketing coup for Philip Morris.
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · William Wan