Philip Morris launching cigarette alternative in Richmond

New cigarette alternative hits Carytown shop

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - If you’re looking for an alternative to smoking cigarettes, Philip Morris USA of the Altria Group is launching its IQOS heated tobacco product in Richmond.

At 10 a.m. Saturday the IQOS shop in Carytown on West Cary Street will open to the public.

The product has already been used outside of the United States for years, but earlier this year the FDA authorized Philip Morris to sell it across the country.

“Our initial lead market launched in Atlanta at the end of September, beginning of October,” said Altria Group spokesman David Sutton.

Come Saturday the IQOS shop in Carytown will open to the public as the product’s second market in the U.S.A.

"I think the industry is going through a significant amount of transformation and change,” Sutton said. “Obviously E-vapor is one category, you have heat-not-burn, you have other categories as well. The way we at Altria look at it is we have a portfolio of products for adult consumers who are looking for alternatives."

The product is different from the traditional cigarette. When tobacco burns in a cigarette it burns at temperatures in the excess of 1600-degrees Fahrenheit which in turn creates smoke. However, the IQOS device is different, heating the tobacco inside Heatsticks at around 570-degress Fahrenheit.

"There's no ash, there's less odor, there's no smoke, it doesn't combust,” Sutton said. “It produces a very cigarette like experience but with a heated tobacco system."

It’s meant for current adult smokers, and employees said they will not sell it to people who currently vape or do not smoke.

"We think IQOS is a compelling product, and it is the only product, next-generation noncombustible that has been through the FDA review process and has been authorized for sale in the U.S.,” Sutton said.

While some traditional smokers have successfully made the switch to alternatives like e-cigarettes, the IQOS device gives current adult smokers a similar cigarette smoking experience. It creates nicotine-containing vapor that lasts about six minutes, comparable to a cigarette.

“We think this is a compelling product,” Sutton said.

Philip Morris International, who manufactures the product, claims the levels of harmful chemicals are significantly reduced compared to traditional cigarettes.

In terms of health risks, Philip Morris International has submitted an application to the FDA for further analysis.

“Currently the FDA is analyzing the science, data and the evidence that Philip Morris International has submitted through their application and we’re waiting from the FDA to rule on that application,” Sutton said.

Because of an agreement with Philip Morris International, Altria has exclusive commercial rights to the IQOS system in the United States.

IQOS is currently available in 50+ markets around the world. Philip Morris International reports that more than 8 million adult smokers around the world have fully switched to IQOS from cigarettes.

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