In a recent article, Theodore Caputi analyses the market of heat not burning cigarettes and reports their commercial success at the expense of the e-cigarette, according to tobacco market analysts. The unprecedented financial investment made by Big Tobacco companies in harm-reduction technology over the last few years tends to confirm the high expectation the companies have in these products for the coming years.

Their future development strongly depends on whether the WHO welcomes this technology. The WHO FCTC was invited, during the sixth conference of parties, (Russia, October 2014) to evaluated the e-cigarette. Not all of the 135 parties agreed to consider e-cigarettes as a tobacco product and the overall benefit of vaping in tobacco control did not either make a consensus. The mixed position about e-cigarette gave it an overall bad notice, leading to a lukewarmness, sometimes a firm reluctance with regard to the e-cigarette, that propagated to its regulation by many countries. The expert report that has been asked to the WHO for this year will be scrutinized and probably strongly debated.

Two months ago, the provisional agenda for ongoing WHO’s Conference of Parties (CoP7 held this week in New Delhi, India), gave a strong signal that heat not burning products would be reviewed as well: “In addition, the market may change since the tobacco industry has launched alternative nicotine delivery systems that heat but do not burn tobacco, and is developing or has bought nicotine inhaler technology that does not require a heating mechanism.” What will be the WHO’s positions about e-cigarettes and about the tobacco industry’s heat not burning offer?

The forthcoming favorite product seems to be PMI’s iQOS because of its presence in many places, associated to a strong marketing exercise. Soon, this product will reach the US market and will certainly be distributed in Europe market as well after its astonishing success in Japan.

Even if the company largely communicated on health benefits with scientific reports, limited external studies have been carried out about the risk of heat not burning products, to date. If these products expand at the high rate tobacco market analysts predict, researchers should be prepared to respond very fast and provide accurate expertise on their emission, concludes Caputi who probably refers to the scientific blunders that accompany the regulatory process of the e-cigarette.

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