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Modelling the impact of a new tobacco product: review of Philip Morris International’s Population Health Impact Model as applied to the IQOS heated tobacco product
  1. Wendy B Max1,2,
  2. Hai-Yen Sung1,2,
  3. James Lightwood3,
  4. Yingning Wang1,2,
  5. Tingting Yao1,2
  1. 1 Institute for Health and Aging, School of Nursing, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA
  2. 2 Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, School of Nursing, San Francisco, California, USA
  3. 3 Department of Clinical Pharmacy, School of Pharmacy, San Francisco, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Wendy B Max, Institute for Health and Aging, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA; wendy.max{at}


Objectives We review the Population Health Impact Model (PHIM) developed by Philip Morris International and used in its application to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market its heated tobacco product (HTP), IQOS, as a modified-risk tobacco product (MRTP). We assess the model against FDA guidelines for MRTP applications and consider more general criteria for evaluating reduced-risk tobacco products.

Methods In assessing the PHIM against FDA guidelines, we consider two key components of the model: the assumptions implicit in the model (outcomes included, relative harm of the new product vs cigarettes, tobacco-related diseases considered, whether dual or polyuse of the new product is modelled, and what other tobacco products are included) and data used to estimate and validate model parameters (transition rates between non-smoking, cigarette-only smoking, dual use of cigarettes and MRTP, and MRTP-only use; and starting tobacco use prevalence).

Results The PHIM is a dynamic state transition model which models the impact of cigarette and MRTP use on mortality from four tobacco-attributable diseases. The PHIM excludes morbidity, underestimates mortality, excludes tobacco products other than cigarettes, does not include FDA-recommended impacts on non-users and underestimates the impact on other population groups.

Conclusion The PHIM underestimates the health impact of HTP products and cannot be used to justify an MRTP claim. An assessment of the impact of a potential MRTP on population health should include a comprehensive measure of health impacts, consideration of all groups impacted, and documented and justifiable assumptions regarding model parameters.

  • nn-cigarette tobacco products
  • harm reduction
  • electronic nicotine delivery devices

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  • Contributors WBM drafted the paper and JL took the lead on statistical review in major revisions. All authors contributed to the analyses and reviewed and edited the manuscript.

  • Funding This work was supported by the US National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Food and Drug Administration Center for Tobacco Products (P50 CA180890).

  • Disclaimer The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH or the FDA.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not requried.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement There are no unpublished data from this study.