In 2019, PMI launched a smokeless product called IQOS in the UAE. This product provides a cleaner way to enjoy tobacco by heating instead of burning tobacco, without soot and less odor, consumers can enjoy tobacco while reducing the release of harmful substances.
PMI’s goal is that by 2025, approximately 40 million adults in the world will stop buying traditional cigarettes and switch to heat-not-burn products like IQOS. About half of these converts, or 20 million people, will come from non-OECD countries like the UAE. De Miblas said: “PMI has set ambitious new goals for 2025, including the conversion of more than 40 million adult smokers to smoke-free products by 2025, half of which will come from non-OECD countries.” Talcan De Miblas is the Vice President of the Middle East of Philip Morris International Group.
However, although traditional cigarettes have indeed fallen out of favor, this transformation has not yet taken root, partly because the smoke-free campaign is still relatively in the trial stage. Since 2016, PMI’s annual global shipments of traditional tobacco products have fallen by 114 billion units. At the same time, the number of IQOS users jumped to 14.6 million in the first quarter of 2020, compared with only 7.6 million in the first quarter of 2018.
It is unclear how many smokers in the UAE have abandoned cigarettes and started using smoke-free alternatives. But one thing is clear, in the Middle East and Africa, the consumption of cigarettes and lower-risk alternatives has declined. In the second quarter of this year, everyone was asked to distance themselves from society and avoid parties and other forms of social gatherings. Philip Morris saw its shipments to the Middle East and Africa drop to 27.373 billion pieces, a 15.4% drop from 32.378 billion pieces in the same period last year. However, global shipments of smoke-free alternatives actually increased by 24.3%, from 15.056 billion units in the second quarter of 2019 to 18.708 billion units in the same period this year. As for regional data, PMI said in a report that the decline reflects “decline in cigarette shipments, especially in North Africa”, as well as Turkey, and a decline in duty-free sales.
Despite this, PMI is still confident to achieve its previous goals in various markets, including the UAE, and did not launch IQOS products until July 2019. “In 2019, the UAE became the first country in the Gulf Cooperation Council to regulate smoke-free products. This opened the door for IQOS and HETTS (a heating tobacco device specially designed for IQOS holders) to be put on the market, thereby providing a chance for adulthood. Smokers provide better alternatives to continuing to smoke. Given that these products have only been on the market for a year, it is difficult to determine their overall impact. But we are very satisfied with consumer acceptance and demand for our heating products.”
De Miblas said they are making “great progress” towards their vision of a smoke-free future. He pointed out that PMI’s IQOS has been commercialized in 57 markets. In just five years, 14.6 million smokers have used this product. Importantly, 73% of customers have completely changed their smoking habits and have given up smoking traditional cigarettes.
“Our goal is that by 2025, smoke-free products will account for 30% of our transportation, which is equivalent to approximately 40 million smokers worldwide using these products. Although it is difficult to predict the timing of this transition, there is a common vision Countries, including the UAE, this is a key market for us (promoting smoke-free products), and we may envision completely replacing cigarettes within a few years,” De Miblas said.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a decision in July regarding the IQOS modified risk tobacco product (MRTP) application and the three heating device (IQOS tobacco heating system) submitted in December 2016. These Philip Morris International Group companies all are improved. This marks the first time that the US Food and Drug Administration has approved the marketing of MRTP’s heat-not-burn substitutes. The Food and Drug Administration has completed a scientific review of the PMI evidence package and independent research, and has decided to switch from traditional cigarettes to the IQOS system based on its interpretation of U.S. laws, which can significantly reduce users’ exposure to harmful or potentially harmful chemicals .