Philip Morris (PMI) has launched IQOS in the UK with the opening of a store in central London.

IQOS is an electronic device that heats specially designed tobacco sticks at temperatures well below combustion levels. As it heats but does not burn tobacco, IQOS generates a flavourful vapour containing nicotine, but no smoke or ash so it does not adversely affect indoor air quality and produces less smell than cigarette smoke. 

PMI says QOS is the first of a range of potentially reduced-risk alternatives to cigarettes it has been working on for over a decade, investing over $3bn in research and development.

PMI says its research suggests that IQOS yields on average less than 10% of the levels of harmful constituents found in cigarette smoke, while still providing consumers with real tobacco taste.

The company is conducting extensive research to verify the risk-reduction potential of the product, including non-clinical and clinical studies. Four of these clinical studies demonstrated that in smokers who switched completely to IQOS for the duration of the study exposure to the studied toxicants was reduced to a level that is close to that of smokers who stopped smoking in the same studies.

Commenting on the research studies, PMI director of scientific engagement, Dr Moira Gilchrist said: “Our studies on IQOS are well advanced. Findings to date demonstrate that IQOS vapour has significantly lower levels of harmful constituents and that the product has appeal to adult smokers, while having negligible appeal to those who have quit smoking and those who have never smoked. The data to date clearly points in the direction of risk reduction. The scientific research is complemented by our early commercial experience where, in less than two years, more than one million adult smokers have stopped smoking, switching from cigarettes to IQOS.”

IQOS will initially be available to smokers at the newly-opened IQOS store on Wardour Street in Soho, Central London. PM UK will be developing plans to distribute the product wider in 2017 and eventually nationwide.

The cost of an IQOS device for registered users will be £45; a single pack of 20 tobacco sticks, branded HEETS, will cost £8 (or £7 in a multi-pack format). HEETS come in three different variants – Amber, Yellow and Turquoise.

Commenting on the UK launch, Philip Morris UK and Ireland Managing Director, Martin Inkster said: “The UK launch of IQOS marks a major milestone towards achieving our objective, in the UK and globally, to replace cigarettes with non-combustible alternatives to the benefit of adult smokers, our company and wider society. It is symbolic that we are opening our first IQOS store in central London, just around the corner from where Mr Philip Morris opened his first tobacco shop in 1847.”

“Our goal is to convert existing adult legal age smokers to these products and we have every intention of using today’s highly efficient distribution and retail networks once a meaningful consumer demand exists.” 

PMI has already launched IQOS in more than ten countries including Japan, Italy and Switzerland and plans to expand to cities in 20 countries by the end of 2016 and up to 35 in 2017.