|Philip Morris International (PMI) Korea CEO Chong Il-woo addresses a press conference at the Banyan Tree Club and Spa in Seoul, Wednesday. The tobacco firm, which accounts for 21 percent of Korea's cigarette market, has unveiled its IQOS smokeless cigarette here, expecting it to become a game changer in the country's increasingly competitive industry. / Courtesy of PMI Korea|
By Lee Hyo-sik
|IQOS tobacco holder and recharger|
The IQOS, comprising of a tobacco holder and a recharger, does not produce harmful smoke because it heats, not burns, tobacco sticks to generate a vapor that contains nicotine, according to the world's largest tobacco company.
The company also said it produces 90 percent less harmful chemicals, and leaves no ash and less odor on smokers, compared to conventional cigarettes. The IQOS will be available for Korean consumers beginning June 5.
In a press conference Wednesday, Philip Morris International (PMI) Korea CEO Chong Il-woo said the IQOS will shift the tobacco industry paradigm, stressing that it is a wiser choice for smokers.
"We really worked hard to develop smokeless cigarettes that are less harmful to smokers and people around them who suffer from secondhand smoke," Chong said. "This revolutionary IQOS is definitely a better choice for those who opt to smoke. It has gained huge popularity among smokers in Japan and 24 other countries over the past two years. It will be the same in Korea."
Conventional cigarettes burn at 600 degrees Celsius and produce smoke and tar. But tobacco sticks, called HEETs, in the IQOS is not burned but heated to 350 degrees Celsius, which does not produce smoke, fire, ash or combustion, PMI Korea said.
This produces about 90 percent less harmful chemicals and has no negative impact on indoor air quality, according to the firm's laboratory tests.
"To develop products that minimize smoking-related illnesses, PMI has spent $3 billion and mobilized more than 430 researchers since 2008," the CEO said. "All our laboratory and clinical tests indicate that the IQOS reduces the risk of smokers contracting smoking-related diseases. It also decreases secondhand smoke risks, and leaves no ash and less smell on clothing. Given all these, switching to the IQOS is a prudent choice."
The device is made up of a charger about the size of a mobile phone and a holder that resembles a pen. A tobacco stick is inserted into the holder, which then heats it to temperatures up to 350 degrees Celsius. The tobacco vapor released contains nicotine, tobacco flavors and a number of other chemicals.
Beginning June 5, the IQOS will be available at CU convenience stores in Seoul and consumers elsewhere will be able to purchase the device and the HEETs in the second half of the year.
The IQOS will be priced at 120,000 won ($107) and the HEETs, which contain 20 sticks, at 4,300 won, 200 won cheaper than a pack of 20 conventional cigarettes.
Since it was first introduced in Japan in September 2015, more than 2 million people now smoke using the IQOS and the HEETs in more than 25 countries.