Philip Morris may launch iQos heated tobacco line in PH by first half of 2020
MANILA, Philippines — The country’s largest cigarette firm will soon introduce its flagship heated tobacco solution called iQos in the Philippine market — possibly by the first half of next year — in a bid to provide 15 million Filipino smokers an alternative to the harmful habit.
As this developed, Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp. (PMFTC) president Denis Gorkun said in a press briefing that he would like to see a level of taxation on the innovative smokeless product that is “proportionate to the risk” that it brings to users.
“It is clear multiple government agencies around the world, including the United States Food and Drug Administration has certified iQos as appropriate for protection of public health after studying our submission of more than one million pages for almost a year, and that certification came out in February this year,” he said.
And since iQos poses a lower health risk to users than cigarettes, they should be taxed at a lower rate once they are formally introduced to the Philippine market, he said.
“I would like to see it in the first half definitely,” Gorkun said when asked about the timing of iQos launch in the Philippines. “Yes, personally, sooner rather than later.”
In a dialogue with lawmakers earlier this year, PMFTC officials pointed to research indicating almost 60 percent of Filipino smokers were open to switching from cigarettes to products like the company’s flagship product called iQos — an electronic device that releases the nicotine in cigarettes sans burning.
The latest estimates put the number of Filipinos currently using smoke-free products of various types at 225,000. Meanwhile, as many as 9 million Filipinos are willing to switch away from traditional tobacco products given the availability of viable alternatives.
Pending iQos’ official launch in the Philippines, a large number of local users source their products overseas or from the local gray market.
Gorkun explained that iQos was developed in a decade-long research and development and market testing process with the goal of eliminating the combustion in cigarettes that releases an enormous amount of toxic chemicals.
“The best thing is to quit,” he said. “But if people don’t quit, the best thing is to change to better alternatives and this is what we do, across all [Philip Morris] markets and the Philippines is one of them.”
Edited by MUF
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