Monday, March 8, 2021

IQOS Continued to Drive Down Japan Cigarette Sales in 2020; U.S. Cigarette Sales Steady


Japan is experiencing an unprecedented decline in cigarette consumption.  Japan Tobacco International reports (here) that cigarette sales dropped 8% in 2020, largely due to sales of reduced-risk products.  The dominant such product in Japan is Philip Morris International’s IQOS heat-not-burn HeatSticks.

U.K. veteran tobacco harm reduction advocate Clive Bates opined: “The only mystery is why the skies over Tokyo are not dark with chartered planes bringing officials from WHO, FDA, Truth Initiative, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the European Commission and others on an emergency mission to learn about this most extraordinary shift.  What is the secret they would find? ‘Do nothing, stay out of the way....’  There was very little involvement from tobacco control – the demise of cigarettes in Japan has been driven by the market and consumer preference.” 

Meanwhile, the U.S. FDA finally authorized IQOS as a reduced exposure alternative to cigarettes on July 7, 2020, greenlighting these claims:


  • The IQOS system heats tobacco but does not burn it.
  • This significantly reduces the production of harmful and potentially harmful chemicals.
  • Scientific studies have shown that switching completely from conventional cigarettes to the IQOS system significantly reduces your body’s exposure to harmful or potentially harmful chemicals.

The FDA advised that its approval is expected to benefit the health of the population as a whole.

The Covid-19 pandemic is hurting U.S. IQOS marketing and sales.  PMI’s retail program requires smokers to visit an IQOS store to get educated about the system and purchase the hardware.  After that, smokers can buy the heat sticks in convenience stores and other outlets.  PMI’s program aims to suppress teen adoption, but the added inconvenience has slowed adoption by adult smokers.  The Wall Street Journal reports that the decades-long decline of cigarette sales has ended. One hopes the trend line will improve again as the pandemic comes under control and smokers make the effort to learn about this new smoke-free alternative.


No comments: