The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued orders in July 2020 authorising Philip Morris Products S.A. to market its heated tobacco product (HTP) IQOS inside the USA with claims that it reduces exposure to some dangerous substances. FDA’s ‘reduced-exposure’ orders explicitly prohibit the marketing of IQOS with claims that IQOS will reduce harm or the risk of tobacco-related diseases. Under US law, FDA’s IQOS orders are problematic because FDA disregarded valid scientific evidence that IQOS increases exposure to other dangerous toxins and that Philip Morris Products S.A. failed to demonstrate that consumers understand the difference between reduced-exposure and reduced-harm claims. Unfortunately, both ‘reduced-exposure’ and ‘reduced-harm’ are classified as ‘modified risk tobacco products’ under US law. Exploiting this confusion, Philip Morris International used the FDA decision as the basis for marketing and public relations campaigns outside the USA to press governments to reverse policies that ban or regulate the sales and marketing of HTPs, including IQOS. Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control should reject tobacco companies’ unsubstantiated explicit or implied claims of reduced harm associated with HTPs and resist Philip Morris International’s and other companies’ calls to relax HTP regulations based on the FDA’s actions. Instead, parties should adopt policies aligned with the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control when dealing with HTPs and other novel tobacco products.
- non-cigarette tobacco products
- tobacco industry
- advertising and promotion
- global health
- public policy
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Contributors All authors contributed to the writing and revision of this paper.
Funding Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the FDA Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) under Award Number U54HL147127. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH or the Food and Drug Administration.
Competing interests SB has been a consultant for the Secretariat of the WHO FCTC.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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