IQOS heated tobacco products

PMI’s blade and induction devices heat—rather than burn—tobacco.
Iqos Iluma heated tobacco product in green

What is a heated tobacco product?

Philip Morris International (PMI) has developed and produced several heated tobacco products (HTPs) under its IQOS brand. Also known as tobacco heating systems, and heat-not-burn products, PMI’s HTPs were first launched in Japan in 2016, and are currently available in 68 markets worldwide. PMI estimates that 13.5 million* adult smokers have already switched to its IQOS HTPs and stopped smoking.

PMI’s HTPs heat the tobacco just enough to release a nicotine-containing tobacco vapor, but without burning the tobacco.

These HTPs are designed for use by adults who would otherwise continue to smoke or use nicotine products. They are not intended for use as cessation devices, nor are they to be used by youth. The best thing any adult smoker can do is to quit tobacco and nicotine altogether. However, moving to a smoke-free alternative, such as PMI’s HTPs, is a better choice for those that would otherwise continue to smoke.

PMI’s HTPs have been launchedin key cities in Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Aruba, Austria, Bahrain, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Canary Islands, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Curaçao, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, La Réunion, Lebanon, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, the Maldives, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Palestine, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, and in some Duty Free shops.

*as of September 30, 2022.

How does heating tobacco differ from burning tobacco?

Cigarettes burn tobacco at high temperatures, producing ash, tar, and smoke that contains high levels of harmful chemicals. But PMI’s HTPs heat tobacco to significantly lower temperatures, without burning it, and therefore produce no fire, ash, or smoke. Because the tobacco is heated and not burned, the average levels of harmful chemicals are significantly reduced compared to cigarette smoke.

However, PMI’s HTPs are not risk-free, and deliver nicotine, which is addictive.

Why burning is the main problem


Burning match Getty thumbnail

How many types of HTP has PMI developed and commercialized?

PMI has developed two types of HTP, which use different technologies to heat the tobacco.

  • Initial generations of PMI’s HTP series use blade heating technology, and these are designed to be used with specific heated tobacco units, called HEETS (or Heatsticks). The blade devices include IQOS 2.4+, IQOS 3 Duo, and IQOS 3 Multi (availability varies from market to market).
  • PMI’s latest generation of HTP devices, IQOS ILUMA, uses induction to heat the tobacco, and were launched in 2021. These devices use specific heated tobacco units called TEREA SMARTCORE STICKS™.

What are heated tobacco units?

Heated tobacco units contain a uniquely processed tobacco plug designed for heating, not for smoking.

The tobacco plug is made from tobacco leaves, which are ground and reconstituted into tobacco sheets, called cast-leaf. These sheets are then crimped and made into a tobacco plug.

PMI’s blade and induction HTPs use different heated tobacco units, specially designed for each device: 

  • The original HTP blade series (IQOS 2.4+, 3 Multi, 3.0 Duo) use HEETS (or Heatsticks).
  • The new HTP induction series (IQOS ILUMA) use TEREA SMARTCORE STICKS™.

This means that the blade HTPs are not compatible with the induction heated tobacco units, and the induction HTPs are not compatible with the blade heated tobacco units.

How do PMI’s blade HTPs work?

PMI’s blade HTPs are available in two versions, although availability varies from market to market. The first version has three main components—a heated tobacco unit, a holder, and a charger. The second version is an integrated product that combines the holder and charger and allows multiple uses without recharging the battery.

All blade devices work in the same way:

  1. The consumer inserts the heated tobacco unit into the holder, which contains an electronically controlled heating blade.
  2. The consumer pushes a button to turn on the heater. The blade simultaneously heats the tobacco, while monitoring its temperature to ensure consistent taste and avoid burning.
  3. The consumer draws on the heated tobacco unit to inhale a nicotine-containing tobacco vapor for six minutes or 14 puffs, whichever comes first.
  4. Once the heated tobacco unit is finished, the consumer removes it from the holder, and then it can be disposed of in a waste bin. Meanwhile, the small battery in the holder can be recharged in the charger, ready for the next use (this stage isn't needed with the second version). The IQOS DUO allows a second use before recharging, and the IQOS Multi can be used up to 10 times before recharging.

How do PMI’s induction HTPs work?

PMI’s induction HTPs use induction to heat tobacco. However, as a newer product, this may not yet be available in your market.

The induction HTPs use the same internal tobacco heating principle as the blade HTPs, but without the blade. This means there is no direct contact between the electronics and the heating element.

  1. The consumer inserts the heated tobacco unit up to the line on the filter until the holder vibrates.
  2. The heating starts automatically, or (if needed) by pressing the button. The tobacco is heated from within the heated tobacco unit through energy transfer to a heating element via a magnetic field.
  3. As with the blade device, the induction device can be used for six minutes, or 14 puffs, whichever comes first.
  4. Once the heated tobacco unit is used, the consumer removes it from the holder, and can dispose of it immediately. The holder can then be charged, ready for the next use.

Is a heated tobacco product (HTP) a vape?

No, an HTP is not a vape. HTPs differ from e-vapor or e-cigarette products. PMI’s HTPs use real tobacco, while e-vapor products use heat to vaporize e-liquid solutions containing flavors and/or nicotine. PMI has developed and commercialized an e-vapor product.

*As of September 30, 2022, PMI estimates that approximately 13.5 million adults around the world, excluding Russia and Ukraine, had already switched to IQOS and stopped smoking. IQOS user metrics reflect PMI estimates, which are based on consumer claims and sample-based statistical assessments with an average margin of error of +/-5% at a 95% Confidence Interval in key volume markets. The accuracy and reliability of IQOS user metrics may vary based on individual market maturity and availability of information.

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