By Duncan Mlanjira
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has added further credence to Phillip Morris International (PMI’s) new smokeless cigarette invention, the ‘IQOS’, saying scientific studies that were conducted show that switching completely from conventional cigarettes to IQOS system significantly reduces the body’s exposure to harmful chemicals.
During his keynote address of the Webinar conference on Wednesday organised by Food & Drug Law Institute (FDLI), FDA’s Center Director, Mitchell Zeller attested that the IQOS system heats up tobacco but does not burn it and that this significantly reduces the production of harmful and potentially harmful chemicals.
Zeller said this as further announcement that the FDA authorized PMI to market and sell the IQOS system as a modified risk tobacco product (MRTP).
He said: “The tobacco products received ‘exposure modification’ orders, which permits the marketing of a product as containing a reduced level of or presenting a reduced exposure to a substance or as being free of a substance when the issuance of the order is expected to benefit the health of the population.”
In cognizance of this new invention, PMI — one of Malawi’s biggest buyers of tobacco, is now ranked second in the world as a tobacco company that is reducing tobacco harm, lowering health risks and mitigating the world’s smoking burden.
This ranking was published in the newly-introduced Tobacco Transformation Index, that is set to be providing comprehensive metrics and insights into how some of world’s 15 largest tobacco companies are deploying (or not deploying) their capital and other resources in pursuit of reducing tobacco harm, lowering health risks and mitigating the world’s smoking burden.
The Tobacco Transformation Index ranks Swedish Match — which divested its cigarette business in 1999 — in first position; PMI in second and British American Tobacco in third.
In July 2020, the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorised PMI’s innovative response aimed at reducing tobacco harm by inventing a smokeless cigarette smoking gadget named IQOS.
The smokeless cigarette innovation also bring a new ray of hope to the African tobacco industry in which PMI buys its tobacco from, including Malawi — whose earnings from the green gold has sharply declined in recent years.
Zeller also announced that in December 2019, FDA authorized the marketing of two combustible, filtered cigarettes manufactured by 22nd Century Group Inc.
The cigarettes contained reduced amount of nicotine compared to other commercial cigarettes as appropriate for the protection of public health.
The products from the two companies will help to reduce nicotine dependence in addicted smokers and that non-smokers, especially the youths, are also unlikely to start using the products.
“Non-smokers who experiment are less likely to become addicted that people who experiment with conventional cigarettes,” Zeller said.
All this is a global campaign to protect youths from being addicted to smoking in which the initiated the amendment of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act which the US President signed — approving raising the federal minimum age of sale of tobacco products for youths from 18 to 21 years.
Effective December 19, 2019, retailers must not sell any tobacco products — including cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, hookah tobacco, cigars, pipes, electronic nicotine delivery systems including e-cigarettes and e-liquids — to anyone under 21 years of age.
Every retailer is mandated to follow this law and take measures to ensure an individual purchasing a tobacco product is over 21 by including checking national IDs when needed.
Adding to this, the FDA also made a new regulation that, from March 2020, all cigarette manufacturers are required to display distinct health warnings on the cigarette packaging and in advertisements to promote greater public understanding of the negative health consequences of cigarette smoking.
Beginning October 16, 2021, the warnings will be required to appear prominently on cigarette packages and in advertisements — occupying the top 50% of the area of the front and rear panels of the packages and occupying the top 20% of the area at the top of the advertisements.
All this is to deter people from smoking in PDA’s public health protection campaign to reduce tobacco harm — especially on the youths.