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Creating a market for IQOS: analysis of Philip Morris’ strategy to introduce heated tobacco products to the Australian consumer market

Abstract

Background Philip Morris International has made efforts to expand the sale of its heated tobacco product, IQOS, into new domestic markets globally. In Australia, where heated tobacco products are prohibited, the company recently attempted to overturn Australian legislation in order to permit their sale. In light of this recent move, this study presents a case study of the company’s strategies to legalise and distribute IQOS in the Australian market.

Methods To assess Philip Morris’ lobbying activities and corporate strategies, a case study approach was used by triangulating data from three sources: interviews with former Philip Morris employees, news articles reporting Philip Morris’ lobbying activities or plans for IQOS in Australia, and submissions to relevant government inquiries and reviews from 2015 to 2020.

Results Philip Morris has actively lobbied Australian policy-makers to overturn bans on nicotine-containing products. Information obtained from key informants and Philip Morris’ government submissions indicates that the company’s goal is for heated tobacco products in Australia to be regulated in a new product category, exempt from tobacco control laws. Informants revealed that Philip Morris was also working to establish a network of upmarket pubs, clubs and bars where they could sell IQOS once legalisation was achieved.

Conclusions Philip Morris has strongly lobbied the Australian government to legalise heated tobacco products, while simultaneously making plans to sell IQOS at young adult-friendly premises such as bars, clubs and pubs if its proposed legislative changes are made. This case study provides valuable insights for other countries where Philip Morris may be replicating similar strategies to weaken tobacco control legislation.

  • public policy
  • tobacco industry
  • media
  • surveillance and monitoring

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