Study results from 43 global independent labs attest to PMI’s smoke-free invention IQOS as being less harmful than tobacco cigarettes

The much acclaimed IQOS

* The lab researchers include those for U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

* Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment; American Cancer Society

* Japanese Department of Environmental Health’s National Institute of Public Health

* China National Tobacco Quality Supervision and Test Centre

By Duncan Mlanjira

Over the last few years since Philip Morris International (PMI) invented its smoke-free invention, IQOS numerous studies conducted by 43 global independent labs, attest that the modified risk tobacco product is less harmful than tobacco cigarettes.


The results confirm different elements of IQOS research that it has a minimal effect on biological processes in people compared to smoking.

The lab researchers include those for U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA); Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment; American Cancer Society; Japanese Department of Environmental Health’s National Institute of Public Health; China National Tobacco Quality Supervision and Test Centre; and even Ukraine’s leading research institutes — which conducted a six-month clinical study on IQOS that was published in prominent national medical periodical Ukrainian Health, showing no significant adverse effect on users of smoke-free products — (Kvasha et al, 2018).

In a statement, PMI — which is one of biggest buyers of Malawi tobacco — says the many government bodies that conducted literature reviews or performed research on heated tobacco products, found that they expose users to significantly lower levels of harmful chemicals.

On July 7, 2020, the U.S. FDA issued decisions on modified risk tobacco product (MRTP) applications for IQOS and three HeatSticks variants (the IQOS tobacco heating system) which PMI submitted in December 2016 and gave it a seal of approval.

In doing so, the FDA found that the issuance of the modified risk tobacco product is appropriate to promote the public health and is expected to benefit the health of the population as a whole.

In May, 2020, the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) also published findings of its research on ‘A Method for Comparing the Impact on Carcinogenicity of Tobacco Products: A Case Study on Heated Tobacco Versus Cigarettes’, which RIVM developed as a method to estimate risk, or assess the potential magnitude of the health impact between tobacco products.

The media statement further said in its publication, RIVM assessed eight carcinogens to understand the likely health impact on individuals who switch to IQOS, compared to those who continue smoking.


In the researchers’ conclusions they stated that — while IQOS is not risk-free — it is associated with 10 to 25 times lower exposure to these carcinogens, and that this could translate into a substantially improved risk profile.

UK’Public Health England (PHE) also published a review of the evidence on e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products, and stated that heated tobacco products likely reduce users’ and bystanders’ exposure to harmful compounds compared to cigarettes.

PHE is also quoted as stressing that the available evidence suggests that heated tobacco products may be considerably less harmful than tobacco cigarettes and more harmful than e-cigarettes.

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), published laboratory studies in Archives of Toxicology, finding that reductions in selected toxicants measured by the institute “are likely to reduce toxicant exposure.”

Two media statement said government-commissioned studies were conducted by independent scientists in Russia, confirming that IQOS aerosol contains an average of 90% reduced levels of harmful chemicals compared to cigarette smoke, and that IQOS has a minimal effect on biological processes in people compared to smoking.

Meanwhile, PMI — in its strong campaign for a smoke-free world, hosted numerous media from across the world to its Swiss R&D Center in Neuchatel, Switzerland on June 14 on the sidelines of the Cube Technovation that brought together over 100 participants to explore a topic that is gaining prominence, particularly as it relates to tobacco consumption.

The initiative was for the media to move along with campaigners in the dialogue around the importance of technology and innovation in creating a better future.

The media were appraised that innovation, science, and technology have long been leveraged to improve the world — whose examples include some advances that have become everyday basics in the lives of countless people around the world.


“These include refrigeration, which has helped reduce foodborne illnesses, and seatbelts and airbags — which have dramatically improved road safety,” said PMI in a statement.

Can innovation and technology apply to tobacco harm reduction? — “PMI firmly believes the answer is a resounding yes.

“The company has invested heavily in research and development to, create new technologies, and develop breakthrough products that are a much better alternative to continued smoking for adults who don’t quit tobacco and nicotine altogether and can play a role in addressing a global public health issue.

“Technovation provides media with an opportunity to engage with PMI’s senior leaders, scientists, and R&D experts. This year’s event focused on providing an immersive experience that demonstrated how disruptive science, innovation, and technology are driving the development of smoke-free products,” said the statement.

It quoted Tommaso Di Giovanni, Vice-president, Global Communications at PMI as saying: “In 2016, PMI took a giant step by committing to focus our business on smoke-free products to replace cigarettes as soon as possible.

Tommaso Di Giovanni

“We are seeking to radically reduce the harm caused by our products — not through reformulation but through reinvention and replacement.”

Many years ago, continues the statement, the tobacco industry was challenged to reduce the harm caused by cigarettes — and PMI accepted the challenge.

Since 2008, the company has invested more than US$9 billion in researching, developing, scientifically substantiating, and commercializing noncombustible alternatives that are a far better choice than continued smoking.

“Science shows us that it’s the chemicals produced by combustion that are the primary cause of smoking-related diseases,” the statement quoted Gizelle Baker, Vice-president, Global Scientific Engagement.

“If we want to achieve the public health breakthroughs that society demands and deserves, we must follow the science.”

Stefano Volpetti, PMI’s Chief Consumer Officer, added credence, saying: “We know that a single smoke-free product will not satisfy the preferences of all adult smokers.

Stefano Volpetti

“Therefore, although not risk-free, a portfolio of science-based, smoke-free options — with different usage, taste, price, and technology profiles — is necessary to encourage more smokers to switch completely.

“The more options that are available to smokers who don’t quit tobacco and nicotine altogether, the more opportunities for them to choose an alternative, and through switching to it completely abandon cigarettes.”

For more information about PMI’s technology and innovation, members of the global family are encouraged to visit