Mr. Bahman Safakish, Managing Director of Philip Morris International (PMI) Sub-Saharan Africa, makers of I Quit Original Smoking (IQOS) electronic tobacco made this prediction in an interview on Thursday.
According to him, “our ambition is that 30% of our volumes be represented by smoke-free products by 2025, which is equivalent to approximately 40 million smokers that adopt them.”
He stated that PMI was “making tremendous progress toward our ambitions of a smoke-free future. IQOS is already commercialized in 53 markets, and we have already encouraged over 10 million smokers to switch to IQOS and abandon cigarettes”.
Safakish said “four more million are currently adopting the product and we expect them to abandon cigarettes soon.”
The I Quit Original Smoking (IQOS) electronic tobacco is a heated system that produces vapour, instead of harmful smoke.
Mr. Bahman Safakish said PMI remains totally committed to ensuring that smoke-free products which are safer, replace the current cigarettes as soon as possible.
According to him, “it is important to note that the World Health Organization estimates that there will be over a billion smokers by 2025 and the goal is to reduce the prevalence of smoking by 30% then”.
However, he lamented that “replacing cigarettes with smoke-free products will take time. For example, scientists and experts should help by providing accurate information to the public about the relative risks of these products versus continued smoking”.
Bahman Safakish added that “governments can work with manufacturers to encourage innovation. Governments have an important role to play by defining regulations that encourage smokers to switch and smokers ultimately will have to decide to quit cigarettes and, or switch to less harmful products.”
The PMI boss argued that one of the solutions to reducing communicable diseases will be the migration from traditional cigarettes to smoke-free products.
According to him, “the number one cause of smoking-related illnesses is all of the toxic substances in cigarette smoke, most of which are formed during the burning of tobacco.”
Safakish commended the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its decisions on Modified Risk Tobacco Product (MRTP) applications for IQOS and three HeatSticks variants (the IQOS tobacco heating system) submitted by Philip Morris International (PMI) since 2016.
“The decision of the FDA is a historic one as it marks the first time that FDA has granted Modified-Risk Tobacco Product (MRTP) marketing orders for a heated tobacco product,” he said.
To support his claim for smokers to switch to electronic cigarette, Safakish said the “Providing these smokers with science-based less harmful alternatives is therefore a commonsense solution to improve public health.”
This he noted is based on “WHO’s own forecast that there will continue to be more than 1 billion smokers by the year 2025, roughly the same number as today.”
On the economic side, Safakish said PMI believes “the cost of both device and heated tobacco consumable will continue to drop over time and governments will continue to provide tax differential and other regulatory measures to accelerate adult smokers’ switching.”