It’s not been a good day for tobacco company Philip Morris, after reports surfaced in the Sydney Morning Herald that their new smokeless product, the iQos, faces major regulatory issues and is unlikely to be legalised in Australia.

The iQos – already banned in New Zealand and condemned to ‘further investigation’ in the EU – has taken the company years to develop as part of their vision of a ‘smoke free’ future, costing over $2bn to create.

It is, according to Philip Morris, a healthier and therefore preferable alternative to cigarettes, in that it reduces the toxins released by igniting tobacco by just heating it instead, leading to the inhalation of vapour, not smoke. (See our review here.)

Yet the product, considered many times safer than cigarettes for this reason, is unlikely to be legalised down under because of regulation regarding tobacco use. As it has been judged neither chewable tobacco nor, technically, inhaled as smoke, the iQos is illegal, and unlikely to ever be made available for sale unless serious reform occurs.

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It does seem odd that, despite going to such lengths to end the use of tobacco products for either smoking or chewing, when presented with an alternative which achieves the aims of health fanatics everywhere, reducing the risks posed by the aforementioned, there is no effort from the health lobby to promote it.

That’s before one even begins to consider the ludicrous idea of banning tobacco for all uses except chewing and inhaling as smoke. If reducing harm is the aim, what use is excluding those two from any ban? Surely, those are the only two options available that cause harm?

Philip Morris are a tobacco company operating in an extremely hostile environment for tobacco companies, and are one of the few, if not the only, to have invested billions of dollars into creating an alternative tobacco product that actively reduces the harm caused by smoking to their clients. Surely governments should be making it easier to get the iQos onto the market?

Perhaps we’re just not imaginative enough; perhaps there are many reasons why doing things with tobacco, other than smoking or chewing it, can harm your health. Please send your suggestions on the back of a postcard, either to us or to Philip Morris.

by Edward Baer