Here at Heat not Burn UK we’ve spent the summer testing new devices and topping up our tans, but there’s been some interesting stuff going on around the world. The big news from a few months back, of course, is that iQOS finally managed to get approval from the US FDA. Now that’s about to translate into actual products on American shelves, as PMI prepare to open the USA’s first iQOS store. HnB is starting to make headway in the Persian Gulf too, as Dubai Airport’s iQOS shop is set to be joined by a string of retailers across the country. There’s still resistance, of course – India seems to be trying for a ban on HnB products – but overall the news is looking pretty good!
iQOS To Hit The USA At Last
American smokers will finally get the chance to try out Heat not Burn products later this month, with the opening of the USA’s first iQOS store. The chosen location is Atlanta, Georgia – ironically, also the home of the notoriously anti-harm reduction Centers for Disease Control.
iQOS has been a controversial topic in the USA, with many anti-THR activists apparently hating it simply because it’s produced by a tobacco company. However, iQOS has a unique distinction among reduced-risk nicotine products; it might contain tobacco and be made by the same people who produce Marlboro cigarettes, but it’s been granted a Pre Market Tobacco Authorisation by the Food and Drug Administration – and that means there’s no legal barrier to it being sold in the USA.
The Philip Morris brand is controlled by Altria in the United States, while iQOS is a Philip Morris International product, but the two companies have come to an agreement to market it in the USA. That agreement has now extended to talks about a merger, bringing the entire Philip Morris brand back together after eleven years as separate businesses. A major incentive for this is the success of PMI’s reduced-harm product range, of which iQOS is the flagship. Altria’s business is focused much more on traditional cigarettes, and it’s been facing troubles in the USA as cigarette sales continue their relentless fall.
UAE To Allow HnB Sales
The United Arab Emirates has broken with the hard-line anti-harm reduction stance of its fellow Persian Gulf members, allowing iQOS to go on sale in the country from this month. Up to now visitors to the UAE have faced confiscation or even fines if they were caught with e-cigarettes at the country’s airports, and the strictly religious state’s harsh justice system made this a formidable deterrent to ex-smokers who were considering travelling there.
Since earlier this year there have been signs that the country’s opposition to harm reduction was softening, though. E-cigarettes are still banned, as far as anyone can make out in the often Byzantine maze of UAE law (although there have been official hints that they’ll be legalised soon), but Dubai airport’s duty free shops began selling iQOS and HEETs a few months ago. That didn’t help the country’s residents much, as they could only buy the products at the airport, but now in a further loosening of restrictions iQOS will be available from retailers across the country.
Cigarettes are freely available and relatively cheap in the UAE, and smoking is still widely permitted in public places. Smoking rates are far higher than official figures suggest (I’ve spent a good amount of time in the UAE) so better access to reduced-harm products is vital. Now the question is whether other Gulf Cooperation Council members, including Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, will follow the UAE’s example.
India Wants To Add HnB To Vaping Ban
Although India has more smokers than any other country except China – over 100 million of them – it’s a very tough market for safer alternatives, with a patchwork of bans and taxes at state level. Recently the federal government started another push for a national-level ban on reduced harm nicotine products, with the health ministry calling for an executive order to totally ban e-cigarettes. It’s now emerging that the ministry wants Heat not Burn products to be covered by this ban as well.
The proposed penalties for vapers are staggering – the health ministry want first-time “offenders” to face up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,400, while repeat offences could be punished with three years in jail and a $7,000 fine.
It’s not certain if the draft executive order will be altered before the government imposes it, and it could also lapse fairly quickly. In India, executive orders are usually issued as emergency measures when parliament isn’t in session, and it would have to be voted into law when the next parliamentary session opens in November. If that doesn’t happen it will lapse. The question is why the health ministry see this as an emergency that needs executive action. Most likely they don’t – this is just an opportunity to get a law in place without the inconvenience of democracy.
New Study Shows Massive Support For Safer Products
A major survey carried out for PMI has found huge support for tobacco harm reduction around the world. The study was carried out in 13 countries and explored attitudes to smoking as well as factors that could persuade smokers to quit.
The headline result is that a massive 83% of respondents believe smokers should have a right to accurate information about smoke-free alternatives. PMI’s chief operating officer Jazek Olczak pointed out that, right now, misinformation is rife – and it’s putting people off switching to safer options. Just over half of smokers surveyed said they had enough information to make an informed choice. In Israel this figure was a dismal 25%, while in Australia – notorious for its opposition to harm reduction – it was just 43%. However, Hong Kong, Italy and Brazil all reported more than 60% of smokers feeling well informed. This is important – 68% of current smokers say they’d be more likely to switch if they had more information about Heat not Burn and vaping.