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Heat-Not-Burn Tobacco: FDA Reviews Philip Morris iQOS Device

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently completed a review of Philip Morris' latest electronic product called iQOS.

The tobacco company claims that its new product is offering tobacco smokers a less harmful alternative to traditional cigarettes.

Philip Morris iQOS Device: How Does It Work?

The iQOS is a small penlike handheld electronic device that heats tobacco instead of burning them. The way it works is similar to the way electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes work.

However, unlike e-cigarettes, the device doesn't use a liquid that usually contains nicotine. Instead, the iQOS uses real Marlboro-branded cigarette sticks and heats them up to produce a tobacco vapor that includes nicotine.

According to Philip Morris, this would reduce people's exposure to tar and toxic chemicals traditional cigarettes normally produce when tobacco is burned.

The company claims that the device contains up to 95 percent less harmful compounds than cigarette smoke. In other words, the new device does less damage to health than traditional cigarettes and can offer smokers an alternative.

Is The Device Really Less Harmful Than Traditional Cigarettes?

The Food and Drug Administration had completed a review of the product on Jan. 22 and confirmed that the iQOS does contain lower levels of harmful chemicals when compared to traditional cigarettes.

The vapor produced by the device was found to contain between 55 percent and 99 percent less harmful chemicals than those found in cigarette smoke. The U.S. federal agency, however, could not make out whether that would translate into lower rates of tobacco-related disease.

This week, medical advisors are expected to discuss whether or not iQOS should be approved and cleared as a "reduced-risk" tobacco product. If it will get cleared, the product would become the first to carry such claim in the U.S. market this year.

Also, Philip Morris' partner, Altria Group Inc., would be the one responsible for marketing iQOS in the local market. The device has already been available in over 30 countries around the world including Canada, the United Kingdom, and, Japan.

FDA's New Anti-Smoking Proposal

The FDA has been preparing an anti-smoking proposal that looks to end cigarette use in the United States. The first component of the federal agency's proposal is to reduce the allowed nicotine content in cigarettes, while the second component is to create a market for less harmful alternative products, like iQOS.

Ironically, the second component of the FDA proposal would save the big tobacco companies from going under, as demonstrated by Philip Morris' iQOS.

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