Creating less harmful alternatives to cigarettes
The smoke from a cigarette contains nicotine, a natural constituent in tobacco, and many harmful chemicals. These toxins – not the nicotine – are the primary cause of smoking-related diseases. We are developing alternative products to cigarettes, which contain nicotine and offer a satisfactory taste to existing smokers, but without the smoke.
We’ve focused on two ways to do that, both of which eliminate the burning (combustion) of tobacco. The first is to heat tobacco to generate a flavorful nicotine-containing vapor while significantly reducing the levels of harmful chemicals in the vapor. The other way is to produce a nicotine-containing vapor without using tobacco. And this is just the beginning.
Heated tobacco products
Through intensive research and development, we have managed to create two breakthrough heated tobacco products: IQOS and TEEPS. Each product heats tobacco in a distinctive way.
Thanks to sophisticated electronics, IQOS heats specially prepared and blended tobacco to just below 350°C, without combustion, fire, ash, or smoke. This generates a flavorful nicotine-containing vapor, releasing the true taste of heated tobacco. Since there is no burning process, the levels of harmful chemicals are significantly reduced compared to cigarette smoke. This is what makes IQOS a smoke-free product that is highly appealing to smokers, with millions of consumers already having made the switch.
The heating system works with three main components – a tobacco stick (called HEETS or HeatSticks), an IQOS holder, and a charger. The consumer simply inserts the tobacco stick inside the holder, where it is heated up by an electronic heating blade. The consumer then draws on the tobacco stick. Once it is finished, the consumer removes the stick from the holder, and it can be disposed of safely in a waste bin. When needed, the consumer recharges the holder by inserting it into the charger.
Similar to IQOS, TEEPS heats tobacco to release its true taste. But TEEPS uses an alternative source of heat to extract tobacco flavors and nicotine from tobacco leaves: it is carbon-heated and has a look and feel similar to a cigarette, without being one. The carbon heat source at the end of TEEPS is ignited. Heat is then transferred to a uniquely processed tobacco plug. The consumer puffs on TEEPS to inhale a flavorful nicotine-containing vapor until the end of the experience. The patented design of TEEPS prevents tobacco from burning.
Products without tobacco
We are also developing two product platforms that contain nicotine but not tobacco – both of which use nicotine extracted from tobacco leaves. These tobacco-free products produce a nicotine-containing vapor in distinctly different ways.
One product platform heats an e-liquid containing nicotine and flavors with an electric heater to generate an e-vapor. This platform includes e-cigarette products such as Vivid Nicocig available in the U.K. It also includes MESH, our next generation e-vapor product.
MESH heating technology uses a metallic mesh with tiny holes to heat a pre-filled, pre-sealed e-liquid cartridge that contains nicotine and flavors to generate a vapor. MESH also features puff-activated heating and a low-liquid level detection system that ensures the consistency and quality of the vapor generated and inhaled. These improvements address the current concerns of adult vapors in relation to quality, safety, consistency, and origin. We launched a city test of MESH, along with four new unique e-liquid flavor offers, in the U.K. in November 2016.
The other product platform is developed based on technology that we acquired in 2011. Products in this category replicate the feel and ritual of smoking without tobacco and without burning. STEEM, unlike an e-cigarette, generates a nicotine-containing vapor in the form of a nicotine salt. When a consumer draws on the mouth piece, a chemical reaction between nicotine (a weak base) and a weak organic acid takes place to produce a vapor containing nicotine salt.