Philip Morris International Advances Alternative Products Shift

The company brought the convenience industry together to talk nicotine trends at the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix.
Don Longo
Editorial Director Emeritus
Don Longo profile picture
Philip Morris International Logo

AUSTIN, Texas — About 100 retailers and convenience store industry leaders gathered in Austin the weekend of Oct. 21-22 for the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix, the biggest F1 race in America, as guests of PMIConnect, the thought-leadership and networking platform of Philip Morris International (PMI).

In a festival-like atmosphere under a 90-degree sun, the retail leaders were among the 450,000-plus spectators that included such luminaries as Elon Musk, Prince Harry, Drew Barrymore and Joe Jonas, among a host of other celebrities.

PMI, a leading international tobacco company, is working to deliver a smoke-free future and evolving its portfolio for the long term to include products outside the tobacco and nicotine sector. About a year ago, PMI acquired Swedish Match, a leader in oral nicotine delivery, creating a global smoke-free entity led by the company's IQOS and ZYN brands. 

[Read more: CEO: Philip Morris International Will 'Absolutely' Stop Selling Cigarettes in the U.K. Within a Decade]

The FDA has authorized versions of PMI's IQOS Platform 1 devices and consumables, and Swedish Match's General Snus, as Modified Risk Tobacco Products (MRTPs). Smoke-free products accounted for approximately 36 percent of PMI's total 2023 third-quarter net revenues. In February 2021, PMI announced its ambition to expand into wellness and healthcare areas as well.

The PMI guests included c-store retailers and state and local merchant association leaders, who had the opportunity to discuss business opportunities and short- and long-term trends in the tobacco category.

Seeking New FDA Authorization

The Austin gathering came as PMI took another step toward growing its alternative nicotine portfolio. On Oct. 20, the company submitted premarket tobacco product applications (PMTAs) and modified risk tobacco product applications (MRTPAs) for IQOS ILUMA heated tobacco products with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

According to PMI, IQOS ILUMA products are its most innovative heated tobacco products. They deliver substantially similar reductions in the formation of harmful and potentially harmful constituents as earlier versions of IQOS products authorized by FDA.

Additionally, the company said: 

  • IQOS ILUMA has demonstrated higher rates of full switching by adults who smoke and improved consumer satisfaction in countries around the world; 
  • IQOS ILUMA products rely on a fundamentally different heating technology from previous versions of IQOS products and contain numerous technological advancements, including improved device and battery longevity; and
  • IQOS ILUMA products are currently available in 27 markets internationally.

"Tens of millions of American adults today smoke cigarettes and will likely continue to do so. They should have a range of scientifically substantiated better alternative nicotine products to choose from, and PMI is committed to providing them with new choices," said Stacey Kennedy, president, Americas and CEO, PMI U.S. Business. "Internationally, IQOS ILUMA products have demonstrated how groundbreaking consumer-centric innovation can lead more adults to stop smoking. We believe that same success can be replicated in the U.S. and drive a rapid decrease in smoking rates among adults. These are strong applications, and we urge the FDA to prioritize them for review."

IQOS first launched in the United States in 2014. PMI will have the full rights to commercialize all IQOS products in the U.S. as of April 30, 2024, per the terms of an agreement with Altria Group Inc. ending the companies’ commercial relationship covering IQOS in the U.S. market.

It plans to commercialize these versions of IQOS in two U.S. states in select key cities in the second quarter of 2024.  

Previous versions of IQOS products have been authorized by the FDA both for sale in the U.S., and as modified risk tobacco products with 'reduced exposure' claims.