Vaporizes the new way of smoking

Iqos - health experts criticize the new e-cigarette - and communication experts criticize the PR strategy

Health experts criticize the new e-cigarette - and communication experts criticize the PR strategy

A tobacco multi wants to discourage smokers from smoking. As an alternative, he offers "Heat not Burn" cigarettes. But e-cigarettes are not without risk either.

The tobacco multinational Philip Morris is currently promoting IQOS in a double-sided advertisement in various Swiss newspapers (including those of CH Media). However, this special type of e-cigarette cannot be seen in the advertisement. This means that many may remain unclear what IQOS is all about. These are also known as “Heat not Burn” cigarettes (HNB). In these, pressed tobacco is heated and not burned like in a conventional cigarette. A sleeve-shaped heating element heats the tobacco in an IQOS cigarette to 350 degrees Celsius. The vapor contains nicotine but fewer combustion products than a cigarette.

In contrast to this, no tobacco is used in a normal e-cigarette, but a liquid, liquids. These liquids are a liquid mixture of glycerine and propylene glycol to which nicotine can optionally be added. During e-smoking, the mixture is heated by a wire, which creates the vapor that is inhaled by the e-smoker.

Philip Morris's listing is aimed at adult cigarette smokers. Country boss Dominique Leroux says, casually dressed in a white shirt and no tie, a friendship bracelet on his wrist in a quote in large letters: "Smokers no longer have any reason to choose cigarettes." Because there is the alternative IQOS.

27 percent of the Swiss population still depends on the glowing stick. For women and men who want to leave, "Philip Morris has developed IQOS, a better alternative to the cigarette", as can be read in the ad. The entry-level set is offered to smokers free of charge for a few days if they exchange a pack of cigarettes and a lighter for it.

A warning must be given anyway

The advertisement also contains a warning: "This tobacco product can damage your health and is addictive." That is why e-cigarettes and IQOS are a thorn in the side of pulmonologists and paediatricians. The lung specialist Jürg Barben from the Children's Hospital in Eastern Switzerland refers to two statements by the European Lung Society ERS on e-cigarettes and “heat not burn” products. It says that the use of nicotine-containing e-cigarettes has increased dramatically worldwide. The e-cigarettes did not mean an exit from smoking, but an entry. The HNB products, i.e. IQOS, with heated tobacco are also harmful and undermine the desire of smokers to quit. And also those of the former smokers to stay smoke-free. HNB and e-cigarettes will make smoking socially acceptable again.

For the pulmonologist Barben, the nicotine in these products is particularly fatal. The nicotine activates our reward system in the brain, which can lead to addiction. Not the same for everyone and at the same speed, but those who quickly break down the toxin in the body also quickly ask for a cigarette or another nicotine alternative.

Because of this risk of addiction, among other things, the European Lung Society is calling for a ban on the sale of e-cigarettes and similar products to young people. According to pulmonologists and paediatricians, e-cigarettes should be treated in the same way by law and regulated in the same way as normal cigarettes.

It is undisputed that the newfangled steam products emit fewer pollutants than cigarettes. According to Philip Morris, IQOS produce 95 percent fewer harmful chemical substances than cigarettes. According to Jürg Barben, cigarette smoke actually contains 4,800 chemicals and 250 poisons, 70 of which are carcinogenic. However, there are also critical substances in e-cigarettes such as formaldehyde, aldehydes and metals such as lead and cadmium. The long-term effects of e-cigarettes have not yet been researched.

The Addiction Association is for it

The “Fachverband Sucht”, on the other hand, sees more advantages than disadvantages, writing in connection with the consultation process on the new Tobacco Products Act: “Tobacco research shows: Vaporizing is better than burning. E-cigarettes are therefore to be recognized as an effective instrument for reducing harm. “We do support harm reduction through e-cigarettes in which a nicotine-containing liquid is vaporized. However, we explicitly exclude heat-not-burn (HNB) products such as IQOS: these do not belong to the form of vaping, ”says Manuel Herrmann from the Addiction Association. "Even the Federal Council does not classify forms of consumption of tobacco, such as HNB devices, and the vaporizing of nicotine-containing liquids in the same category."

“As if a beer company were advertising syrup”: that's what marketing experts say

A tobacco company boss who promotes the abandonment of smoking and instead propagates the supposedly healthier alternative from the same company - does that seem credible? Philip Morris - with annual sales of $ 80 billion - is currently pursuing this strategy. Marketing experts express doubts as to whether this message from Philip Morris is convincing among consumers: "First and foremost, Philip Morris wants to provoke and generate attention," says Adrienne Suvada, lecturer in marketing management at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences. “The problem is that Philip Morris is hugely anchored in people's minds as an unhealthy brand of cigarettes. In this respect, it looks like a beer company suddenly advertises syrup. " However, the marketing expert does not consider a change of image to be impossible. "If that is to succeed, however, it will take several years."

Bernhard Bauhofer from the consulting firm Sparring Partners specializes in questions of reputation. He speaks of a "questionable campaign". Although it makes sense at certain moments for the boss to stand personally in advertising, as this can reinforce a message and make it more credible. "In this case, however, it seems rather ingratiating." The message in the advertisements "It's time to change" does not change the fact that Philip Morris makes his sales with harmful products that can cause cancer.

And the IQOS alternative system is also not beyond all doubt with regard to health risks. That is why advertising is ethically and morally questionable, says image consultant Bauhofer. Benjamin Weinmann