Understanding the recent Public Health England Report on smoking alternatives

Philip Morris Limited (PML) has responded to a major review of smoking alternatives by Public Health England which for the first time focussed on heated tobacco products.

The report on e-cigarettes by PHE – the executive agency of the Department of Health – advised that all smokers should be encouraged to switch away from cigarettes to vaping products.

It also said hospitals should allow vaping in private rooms, adding hospitals should be allowed to sell e-cigarettes in their shops.

PHE’s latest independent review into e-cigarettes – the last one was published in 2015 – considered heated tobacco products for the first time. Among devices it highlighted was Philip Morris’s IQOS device, which is now used by just under 4 million people across the globe.

Public Health England agreed that heated tobacco was less harmful than traditional cigarettes, but more so than e-cigarettes.

The report stated more independent research into the devices was needed.

A spokesman for Philip Morris said: “We welcome PHE’s conclusions on e-cigarettes and are encouraged by the recognition that heated tobacco products “may be considerably less harmful than tobacco cigarettes”.

“E-cigarettes and heated tobacco products have clear potential to be less harmful alternatives for the 8 million smokers in the UK who would otherwise continue smoking. Consumers have different preferences and should have access to a range of alternatives to cigarettes.

“Nearly 4 million consumers globally have already switched to our heated tobacco product, IQOS. Our scientific evidence clearly indicates that IQOS is a much better choice than cigarettes, and we are encouraged by the growing number of independent studies whose findings are in line with ours.

“Our ambition is that all those who would otherwise continue smoking abandon cigarettes and switch completely to scientifically substantiated smoke-free products as soon as possible. We agree that regulatory policies and providing accurate information to smokers can substantially accelerate the speed and magnitude of this historic change.”

The report was published a month after Philip Morris took out adverts in national UK newspapers announcing its intention to “quit cigarettes” as part of its commitment to a smoke-free future.

IQOS heats specially designed tobacco sticks at temperatures well below combustion levels, generating no smoke or ash but a flavourful vapour containing nicotine.

It also produces less smell than cigarette smoke. Philip Morris research demonstrates that IQOS yields on average 90-95% lower levels of harmful constituents found in cigarette smoke, while still providing consumers with a real tobacco experience.

The PHE report was also welcomed by campaign group The Freedom Association.

Andrew Allison MCIJ, Head of Campaigns at The Freedom Association, said: “This week’s important Public Health England report provided the first formal review of Heat Not Burn technology and acknowledged the need for smokers to be able to access a variety of ways to help them to switch from the use of traditional cigarettes.

“PHE advised that Heat Not Burn products are not as “safe” as e-cigarettes, but the point that we believe needs to be underlined and focussed on is that Heat Not Burn devices are still vastly safer than cigarettes.

“Not all smokers will move to vaping. Heat Not Burn devices offer another option for smokers wishing to move away from traditional cigarettes. It is crucial they have a variety of options open to them in helping them do this.”

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