Difference between revisions of "E-Cigarettes: Philip Morris International"

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[[Philip Morris International]] (PMI) was the last of the international tobacco companies to move into the e-cigarette market. In November 2013, the company announced that it was going to produce its own e-cigarette.<ref> S. Cavale, D. K. Kumar , [https://web.archive.org/web/20190529133455/https://www.reuters.com/article/us-philipmorris-outlook/marlboro-maker-philip-morris-to-enter-e-cigarette-business-idUSBRE9AJ0YH20131120 Marlboro make Philip Morris to end e-cigarette business],  ''Reuters'', 20 November 2013, accessed May 2019</ref> By2019 the company had three e-cigarette brands in its product portfolio, two of which were sold only in the United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland, and the other only in Spain and Israel.
  
[[Philip Morris International]] (PMI) was the last of the international tobacco companies to move into the e-cigarette market. In November 2013 the company announced that it was going to produce its own e-cigarette.<ref>Rupert Hargreaves, [http://www.dailyfinance.com/2013/12/17/philip-morris-blunders-into-the-e-cig-market-but-i/ Philip Morris Blunders into the E-Cig Market, But Is It Too Late?], The Motley Fool, InvestmentDaily.com, 17 December 2013, accessed December 2013</ref>  
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PMI now routinely describes e-cigarettes as being part of their portfolio of “reduced risk products (RRPs)”, which includes products containing tobacco (see below).<ref>Philip Morris International, [https://web.archive.org/web/20190530112130/https://www.pmi.com/faq-section/faq/what-are-reduced-risk-products Frequently Asked Questions: What are reduced-risk products], PMI website, undated, accessed May 2019</ref><ref> Philip Morris International, [https://web.archive.org/web/20190530112624/https://www.pmi.com/science-and-innovation/creating-less-harmful-alternatives-to-smoking-cigarettes Creating Less  Harmful Alternatives to Smoking Cigarettes], PMI website, undated, accessed May 2019</ref> In a report to shareholders in April 2019, the company stated that it had spent US$6 billion (GB£4.75 billion) on these types of product since 2008. This figure included “research, product and commercial development, production capacity, scientific substantiation, and studies on adult smoker understanding”,<ref name=investor> Philip Morris International, [https://www.pmi.com/investor-relations/overview Investor Information April 2019], PMI website, accessed June 2019</ref> and made up 92% of their “total research and development expense” in 2018.<ref name=annual>Philip Morris International, [PMI annual report 2018], 8 March 2019, accessed May 2019</ref> By the end of that year they held 4,600 “RRP related patents worldwide” with over 6,000 pending.<ref name=investor/> Most of this research and development had been focussed on their [[Heated Tobacco Products | heated tobacco products]] which they “deliberately prioritized”.<ref name=investor/> However, in 2019 PMI stated that they had “not been idle on e-vapour products”, had invested “significantly”, and were “ready to introduce them at scale”.<ref name=investor/>
  
In December that year, PMI signed a contract including a set of licensing, supply and cooperation agreements with [[Altria]]. The two companies were combined until 2008; Altria is US-based and owns Philip Morris USA. Financial terms of the agreements were not disclosed.  
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==Background==
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===Licensing Agreement with Altria===
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In December 2013, PMI signed a contract including a set of licensing, supply and cooperation agreements with [[Altria]].  
  
Under the agreement, PMI gained the right to exclusively sell Altria's e-cigarettes outside the United States, and in return Altria now has the right to exclusively sell in the United States two "modified risk tobacco products" being developed by PMI, which heat the tobacco without burning it. The companies also said they would work together on scientific assessments and regulatory authorisations; the commercialisation of reduced risk products in the United States is subject to approval by the US Food and Drug Administration.<ref>Reuters, [http://www.solarnews.ph/lifestyle/health/2013/12/23/philip-morris-altria-team-up-on-cigarette-alternatives#.UtO4eaya_n8 Philip Morris, Altria team up on cigarette alternatives], 23 December 2013, accessed January 2014</ref> At the occasion, PMI Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Andre Calantzopoulos said in a statement:
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Under the agreement, PMI gained the right to exclusively sell Altria's e-cigarettes outside the United States (US), and in return Altria gained the right to exclusively sell PMI e-cigarettes in the US. They also agreed to collaborate on obtaining regulatory approval.<ref name=reutersdec>[https://web.archive.org/web/20190529135024/https://www.reuters.com/article/us-philipmorris-altria/philip-morris-altria-team-up-on-cigarette-alternatives-idUSBRE9BJ0VK20131220 Philip Morris, Altria team up on cigarette alternatives], ''Reuters'', 20 December 2013, accessed May 2019</ref> Since May 2016 the commercialisation of ‘reduced risk products’ in the US has been subject to approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).<ref> U.S. Food and Drug Administration, [https://www.fda.gov/media/110022/download FDA  Requirements for Newly Regulated Tobacco Products], December 2017, accessed October 2019</ref>
::PMI firmly believes that reduced-risk tobacco products, as well as e-cigarettes, represent an important step toward achieving the public health goal of harm reduction, a potential paradigm shift for the industry and a significant growth opportunity for the company.<ref>Reuters, [http://www.solarnews.ph/lifestyle/health/2013/12/23/philip-morris-altria-team-up-on-cigarette-alternatives#.UtO4eaya_n8 Philip Morris, Altria team up on cigarette alternatives], 23, December 2013, accessed January 2014</ref>
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When announcing the new licensing contract in 2013, PMI Chief Executive Officer (CEO) [[Andre Calantzopoulos]] said:
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::”PMI firmly believes that reduced-risk tobacco products, as well as e-cigarettes, represent an important step toward achieving the public health goal of harm reduction, a potential paradigm shift for the industry and a significant growth opportunity for the company.<ref name=reutersdec/>  
  
* Also see: [[E-Cigarettes: Altria]]
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=== Working with Altria on Research and Development===
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In July 2015 PMI and Altria announced that they would be expanding their joint working to research and develop new e-cigarettes, <ref>[https://web.archive.org/web/20190529134359/https://www.reuters.com/article/us-altria-group-pmi-deal/philip-morris-expands-e-cigarette-deal-with-altria-idUSKCN0PQ20L20150716 Philip Morris expands e-cigarette deal with Altria], ''Reuters'', 16 July 2015, accessed May 2019</ref> and reaffirmed their collaboration on “regulatory engagement and approval”.<ref> Altria Group Inc, [https://web.archive.org/web/20190530125915/http://investor.altria.com/Cache/1500113635.PDF?O=PDF&T=&Y=&D=&FID=1500113635&iid=4087349  2015 Annual Report], 1 March 2016, accessed May 2019</ref>
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See also: [[E-Cigarettes: Altria]]
  
==Heated Tobacco Products==
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==Concentrated on the UK and Irish E-Cigarette Markets==
PMI’s CEO Calantzopoulos believes the future is in [[Heated Tobacco Products]] (HTPs), rather than e-cigarettes. HTPs are devices that heat up tobacco enough to release flavour and nicotine, but not enough to catch fire and make smoke. The company prefers these products over e-cigarettes because they give consumers a stronger and faster kick of nicotine, more akin to a regular cigarette. He said that “the current generation of e-cigarettes generally has a much slower delivery profile than conventional cigarettes, which, together with a weaker taste, explains limited user satisfaction and reduced adoption rates”.<ref>Tom Cara, [http://blogs.wsj.com/corporate-intelligence/2014/01/10/what-do-smokers-really-want-e-cigarettes-or-safer-tobacco/What Do Smokers Really Want: E-Cigarettes, or Safer Tobacco?], Corporate Intelligence, WSJ, 10 January 2014, accessed February 2014</ref>
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PMI has mainly targeted the UK and Irish markets with its e-cigarette brands.  
  
== New Production Facilities ==
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===Acquired Nicocigs===
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In June 2014, it bought an independent UK e-cigarette company ''Nicocigs'' which at the time had an estimated 27% share of the GB£275 million (US$350 million) UK e-cigarette market.<ref>Philip Morris International, [https://web.archive.org/web/20190702131029/https://www.pmi.com/media-center/press-releases/press-release-details/?newsId=11541 Philip Morris International Inc. (“PMI”) Hosts Investor Day: E-Vapour Acquisition], PMI Press Release, 26 June 2014, accessed July 2019</ref> It also began selling its brands ''Nicolites'' and ''Vivid'' in the UK.<ref name=vapour> Philip Morris International, [https://web.archive.org/web/20190529161050/https://www.pmi.com/smoke-free-products/mesh-taking-e-cigarettes-further Taking E-Cigarettes Further: E-Vapour Products], PMI website, undated, accessed May 2019</ref> In 2016 PMI changed the Nicolites brand name to ''Nicocig''.<ref> [https://web.archive.org/web/20190624135413/https://www.healthandcare.co.uk/blog/nicolites-are-changing-their-name-to-nicocig.html Nicolites Are Changing Their Name to Nicocig], Healthandcare.co.uk, 11 October 2016, accessed June 2019</ref><ref> Philip Morris Limited, [https://web.archive.org/web/20190624130327/https://www.pmi.com/resources/docs/default-source/fmt_library/philip-morris-uk---business-integration-press-release---19-april-2017.pdf?sfvrsn=f8f586b5_0 Philip Morris (UK and Ireland) Becomes Multi-Category Business],  PMI press release,  21 April 2017, accessed June 2019</ref> However by 2019 these products were no longer sold directly; customers were redirected from the Vivid Vapours website to that of an independent retailer, underneath a link to IQOS Mesh (see below).<ref name=vivid>[https://web.archive.org/web/20190604124606/https://www.vividvapours.com/ Vivid Vapours], vividvapours.com, undated, accessed May 2019</ref>
  
In January 2014, PMI announced plans to invest up to €500 million (680.4 million USD or 413.100 GBP) into its first manufacturing facility in Europe and an associated pilot plant in Italy to produce potentially “reduced-risk” tobacco products. Construction of the new facility is expected to start immediately and last about two years. The pilot plant is already near completion and will serve as the production facility for pilot and initial market launches.<ref>Ben Fox Rubin, [http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304347904579312132410418614 Philip Morris Investing To Produce 'Reduced-Risk' Products] Factory, Pilot Plant to Employ up to 600 People, Wall Street Journal , 10 January 2014, accessed February 2014</ref>
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After buying Nicocig in 2014 PMI claimed to hold the largest share of the UK e-cigarette market.  However it appears that each year after that PMI’s e-cigarette brands held a smaller percentage share of an expanding market. According to Euromonitor International, Nicocig’s brand share fell from 7.5% in 2014, to 1.0% in 2017, and Vivid Vapor’s fell from 4.7% to 0.5%.<ref> Euromonitor International: Nicocig and Vivid Vapors market share by retail value, 2014-2018, accessed September 2019</ref> PMI’s total market share in the UK fell from 12.2% in 2014 to 1.7% in 2018.<ref name=eurobrand> Euromonitor International: UK e-cigarette market share by retail value, 2014-2018, accessed September 2019</ref> Over the same period the UK e-cigarette market grew in value from nearly GB£440 million to over £1.8 billion, an increase of over 400%.<ref> Euromonitor International: UK e-cigarette market value, 2014-2018, accessed September 2019</ref>
== Other TobaccoTactics Resources ==
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In September 2014, Nicocigs registered trademarks for a refillable e-cigarette called ''VYGO'',<ref> World Intellectual Property Organization, [https://www.wipo.int/branddb/en/ Global Brand Database: VYGO], accessed July 2019</ref> although it did not appear on the market.
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While still fragmented, with a large number of independent companies, by 2017 the market leaders in the UK were [[E-Cigarettes: British American Tobacco | British American Tobacco]] brands.<ref> Euromonitor International: Smokeless Tobacco and Vapour Products in the United Kingdom, Country Report, July 2018, accessed June 2019</ref>
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According to Nicocig’s accounts filed at UK Companies House in 2018, the company made a loss of over GB£4.3 million in 2016 and GB£8.8 million in 2017.<ref name=nicocigs> Nicocigs Ltd., [https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/06622136/filing-history  Nicocigs Limited: Filing History, Full Accounts made up to 31 December 2017], Companies House, 30 November 2018</ref> The accounts also record over GB£14.9 million of “amounts owed to group undertakings”, and state that Nicocigs is a going concern on the assumption of “the continued support of the [sic] its parent company, Philip Morris Holdings B.V.”<ref name=nicocigs/>
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In May 2018, PMI announced a contract with Primeline Group. This gave the Irish marketing company distribution and marketing rights for Nicocig and Vivid in Ireland from December of that year.<ref>Primeline Group, [https://web.archive.org/web/20190604123850/http://primeline.ie/philip-morris-limited-appoints-primeline-as-their-new-irish-distributor/ Philip Morris Limited announced Primeline Group as its new distribution partner], Primeline.ie, undated, accessed May 2019</ref>
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===Selling Altria’s E-Cigarettes===
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In 2015 PMI started selling Altria’s ''MarkTen'' e-cigarette, rebranded as ''Solaris'', in Spain (in March) and Israel (in December). According to [[Jacek Olczak]], at the time PMI’s Chief Financial Officer, “the Solaris brand name conveys a sense of technology and positive energy”.<ref name=vapour/><ref> B. Page, [https://web.archive.org/web/20190604143005/https://ecigintelligence.com/pmi-rebranding-altrias-markten-for-european-market-as-solaris/ PMI rebranding Altria MarkTen as Solaris for European launch], ECig Intelligence, 19 February 2015, accessed May 2019</ref><ref name=brands> Philip Morris International, [https://web.archive.org/web/20190529163335/https://www.pmi.com/who-we-are/building-leading-brands Building Leading Brands], PMI website, undated, accessed May 2019</ref>
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It was not clear whether PMI was intending to wind down production of these brands, but by 2019 the company’s focus appeared to have shifted to its own e-cigarette (see below).
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[[Image:IQOSandMesh_190610.PNG |500px|thumb|right| Image 1. IQOS Mesh on sale on the UK IQOS website (screengrab taken in June 2019, https://uk.iqos.com)]]
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==Developed IQOS Mesh==
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By 2016, PMI had developed an e-cigarette called ''IQOS Mesh''. Confusingly, up to the launch of Mesh, the brand name IQOS was associated exclusively with PMI’s heated tobacco products (see below). Following an all-expenses paid pre-launch event for invited “vape insiders” in Neuchatel, Switzerland,<ref name=vapour/><ref>Ed, [https://web.archive.org/web/20190603102230/https://www.vapingpost.com/2018/09/17/philip-morris-iqos-mesh-review/ Philip Morris IQOS Mesh Review], ''Vaping Post'', 17 September 2018, accessed May 2019</ref> IQOS Mesh was first launched in the UK in 2016, but not widely available.<ref name=monitor>Euromonitor, Philip Morris International Inc: Global Company Profile, 14 August 2018</ref> After test marketing in London, in July 2018,<ref name=annual/> Mesh went on sale in UK supermarkets (including Sainsbury’s) and petrol station forecourts, as well as IQOS stores.<ref>Philip Morris International, [https://companion.iqos.co.uk/stores Stores], IQOS website, undated, accessed May 2019</ref>
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This e-cigarette is designed to use pre-sealed nicotine cartridges with the brand name ''VEEV'', which come in a range of “gourmet” flavours including, in 2019,  “Tobacco Harmony”, “Summer Garden” and “Passion Fruit Zest”, and in three different nicotine levels.<ref>Philip Morris International, [https://uk.iqos.com/products/benefits-mesh IQOS Mesh: Benefits], uk.IQOS.com, undated, accessed May 2019</ref> Mesh is sold on the IQOS website alongside the company’s heated tobacco products (see image 1).<ref>[https://uk.iqos.com/products/what-is-iqos-mesh What is IQOS Mesh] uk.IQOS.com, undated, accessed May 2019</ref> In 2019 the Vivid Vapours website had a prominent redirect to the IQOS site.<ref name=vivid/>
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There was no specific reference to Mesh sales in publicly available company documents in 2018 or early 2019,<ref name=AGM> Philip Morris International, AGM Presentation and Script, 1 May 2019</ref><ref name=earnings> Philip Morris International, [https://www.pmi.com/investor-relations/reports-filings Quarterly Earnings Announcements], Earnings Results, First Quarter 2019 and Fourth Quarter 2018, accessed May 2019</ref> except that “initial results were promising”.<ref name=AGM/> Therefore it is unclear how important IQOS Mesh is to PMI’s business in comparison to their more widely marketed heated tobacco products. According to Euromonitor, PMI launched this product to “take advantage of the fast-growing non-cig-a-like closed system category in the UK”.<ref> Euromonitor International, ''Smokeless Tobacco, E-Vapour Products and Heated Tobacco in the United Kingdom'', Country Report, July 2019</ref> Although it had a 0.2% share in 2018 in the UK, it was “virtually non-existent” in terms of the global e-vapour market.<ref name=eurobrand/><ref name=monitor/>
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In May 2019, Calantzopoulos revealed, in an interview about IQOS production in Greece, that they planned to roll out sale of IQOS e-cigarettes internationally in 2020, on the back of IQOS heated tobacco products:
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<blockquote>
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“… if we proceed with our entry into the market of conventional vapes, known as electronic cigarettes, under the IQOS trademark – which, by the way, we will start doing gradually at the end of the next year in various international markets – we will be able to do so through our infrastructure and our greater organization that has already been evolved and knows how to do that through IQOS. The initial cost of entry to the market will be much lower for us. So, the profit margins are improved.”<ref> I. Bellos, [https://web.archive.org/web/20190722092744/http://www.ekathimerini.com/241079/article/ekathimerini/business/the-greek-who-is-shaking-things-up-at-philip-morris the Greek who is shaking things up at Philip Morris], ekathimerini.com, 31 May 2019, accessed July 2019</ref>
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</blockquote>
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== Nicotine Vapour Product: STEEM ==
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In 2018 PMI said it was developing a new nicotine salt e-cigarette called ''STEEM''. Apparently “inspired by technology acquired from [[Duke University and the Tobacco Industry| Duke University]]” in 2011.<ref> Philip Morris International, [https://web.archive.org/web/20190529165426/https://www.pmi.com/faq-section/faq/what-are-your-new-smoke-free-products FAQ: What are PMI’s new products?], PMI website, undated, accessed May 2019</ref><ref> Philip Morris International, [https://web.archive.org/web/20190604152141/https://www.pmi.com/faq-section/faq/what-is-steem FAQs: What is STEEM?], PMI website, undated, accessed May 2019</ref> This e-cigarette uses a salt created when ‘freebase’ nicotine<ref> Centre for Media and Democracy, [https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Freebase_nicotine Freebase Nicotine], Sourcewatch, 27 September 2017, accessed July 2019</ref> is dissolved in acid. This enables higher doses, of more concentrated nicotine, to be consumed.<ref> R. Becker, [https://web.archive.org/web/20190604153743/https://www.theverge.com/2018/11/21/18105969/juul-vaping-nicotine-salts-electronic-cigarettes-myblu-vuse-markten  JUUL’s nicotine salts are dominating the market – and other companies want in], ''The Verge'', 21 November 2018, accessed May 2019</ref>
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Euromonitor described STEEM as “virtually non-existent” in the international market in 2018. <ref name=monitor/>
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==E-Cigarettes or Heated Tobacco: Where Does PMI’s Interest Lie?==
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From 2014 it was clear that, in terms of innovation away from traditional cigarettes, PMI believed its future would lie with [[Heated Tobacco Products]] (HTPs), rather than e-cigarettes. PMI claims that HTP devices heat tobacco enough to release flavour and nicotine, but not enough to catch fire and produce smoke. These products give consumers a stronger and faster kick of nicotine, more like a regular cigarette. However, at the time, Calantzopoulos said that “the current generation of e-cigarettes generally has a much slower delivery profile than conventional cigarettes, which, together with a weaker taste, explains limited user satisfaction and reduced adoption rates”.<ref>T. Cara, [https://web.archive.org/web/20190529140620/https://blogs.wsj.com/corporate-intelligence/2014/01/10/what-do-smokers-really-want-e-cigarettes-or-safer-tobacco/ What Do Smokers Really Want: E-Cigarettes, or Safer Tobacco?], ''Wall Street Journal”, 10 January 2014, accessed May 2019</ref>
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In January 2014, PMI announced that it would be investing up to EUR€500 million (US$680 million) in its first “potentially reduced-risk” tobacco products manufacturing facility in Europe, and an associated pilot plant in Italy.<ref>B. F. Rubin, [https://web.archive.org/web/20190529141838/https://www.wsj.com/articles/philip-morris-investing-to-produce-8216reducedrisk8217-products-1389355878 Philip Morris Investing To Produce 'Reduced-Risk' Products], ''Wall Street Journal'', 10 January 2014, accessed May 2019</ref><ref>Philip Morris International, [https://www.pmi.com/media-center/press-releases/press-release-details/?newsId=1889735 Philip Morris International to invest up to €500 Million in Reduced-Risk Product Manufacturing Facility in Italy], PMI Press Release, 10 January 2014, accessed May 2019</ref>
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Most of this new capacity appeared to be geared towards the production of heated tobacco products. According to Euromonitor, PMI is testing two types of this ‘platform’, one with electronics and one without.<ref name=monitor/> 
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For more information see [[Heated Tobacco Products]]
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==Joined Vaping Industry Lobbying Organisations ==
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Between 2017 and 2018, PMI became a member of two European vaping industry associations: the [[UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA)]] which lobbies the UK government on vaping regulation, and Vape Business Ireland, which has as similar role in the Republic of Ireland. Nicolites was also listed as a member of Vape Business Ireland.<ref>Vape Business Ireland (VBI), [https://web.archive.org/web/20190424134258/https://vapebusinessireland.ie/ Members], VBI website, undated, accessed May 2019</ref>
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Both UKVIA and their “partners” Vape Business Ireland were signatories to a document lobbying the World Health Organization (WHO) on e-cigarette regulation in 2018 with the aim of deregulating vaping products and other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).<ref> UK Vaping Industry Association, [https://web.archive.org/web/20190507120934/https://www.ukvia.co.uk/memorandum-of-understanding-between-global-vaping-trade-associations-and-campaigners/ Memorandum of understanding between global vaping trade associations and campaigners], Press Release, 8 October 2019, accessed May 2019</ref>
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For more information see [[UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA)]]
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==TobaccoTactics Resources ==
 
* [[E-cigarettes]]
 
* [[E-cigarettes]]
 
* [[E-cigarettes: Marketing]]
 
* [[E-cigarettes: Marketing]]
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<references/>
 
<references/>
  
[[Category:Next Generation Products]][[category:Harm Reduction]] [[category:Product Innovation]] [[category:E-Cigarettes]][[category: Heated Tobacco Products]]
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[[Category:Next Generation Products]][[category:Harm Reduction]] [[category:Product Innovation]] [[category:E-Cigarettes]] [[category:Lobbying Decision Makers]]

Revision as of 15:29, 4 November 2019

Philip Morris International (PMI) was the last of the international tobacco companies to move into the e-cigarette market. In November 2013, the company announced that it was going to produce its own e-cigarette.[1] By2019 the company had three e-cigarette brands in its product portfolio, two of which were sold only in the United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland, and the other only in Spain and Israel.

PMI now routinely describes e-cigarettes as being part of their portfolio of “reduced risk products (RRPs)”, which includes products containing tobacco (see below).[2][3] In a report to shareholders in April 2019, the company stated that it had spent US$6 billion (GB£4.75 billion) on these types of product since 2008. This figure included “research, product and commercial development, production capacity, scientific substantiation, and studies on adult smoker understanding”,[4] and made up 92% of their “total research and development expense” in 2018.[5] By the end of that year they held 4,600 “RRP related patents worldwide” with over 6,000 pending.[4] Most of this research and development had been focussed on their heated tobacco products which they “deliberately prioritized”.[4] However, in 2019 PMI stated that they had “not been idle on e-vapour products”, had invested “significantly”, and were “ready to introduce them at scale”.[4]

Background

Licensing Agreement with Altria

In December 2013, PMI signed a contract including a set of licensing, supply and cooperation agreements with Altria.

Under the agreement, PMI gained the right to exclusively sell Altria's e-cigarettes outside the United States (US), and in return Altria gained the right to exclusively sell PMI e-cigarettes in the US. They also agreed to collaborate on obtaining regulatory approval.[6] Since May 2016 the commercialisation of ‘reduced risk products’ in the US has been subject to approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).[7] When announcing the new licensing contract in 2013, PMI Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Andre Calantzopoulos said:

”PMI firmly believes that reduced-risk tobacco products, as well as e-cigarettes, represent an important step toward achieving the public health goal of harm reduction, a potential paradigm shift for the industry and a significant growth opportunity for the company.”[6]

Working with Altria on Research and Development

In July 2015 PMI and Altria announced that they would be expanding their joint working to research and develop new e-cigarettes, [8] and reaffirmed their collaboration on “regulatory engagement and approval”.[9] See also: E-Cigarettes: Altria

Concentrated on the UK and Irish E-Cigarette Markets

PMI has mainly targeted the UK and Irish markets with its e-cigarette brands.

Acquired Nicocigs

In June 2014, it bought an independent UK e-cigarette company Nicocigs which at the time had an estimated 27% share of the GB£275 million (US$350 million) UK e-cigarette market.[10] It also began selling its brands Nicolites and Vivid in the UK.[11] In 2016 PMI changed the Nicolites brand name to Nicocig.[12][13] However by 2019 these products were no longer sold directly; customers were redirected from the Vivid Vapours website to that of an independent retailer, underneath a link to IQOS Mesh (see below).[14]

After buying Nicocig in 2014 PMI claimed to hold the largest share of the UK e-cigarette market. However it appears that each year after that PMI’s e-cigarette brands held a smaller percentage share of an expanding market. According to Euromonitor International, Nicocig’s brand share fell from 7.5% in 2014, to 1.0% in 2017, and Vivid Vapor’s fell from 4.7% to 0.5%.[15] PMI’s total market share in the UK fell from 12.2% in 2014 to 1.7% in 2018.[16] Over the same period the UK e-cigarette market grew in value from nearly GB£440 million to over £1.8 billion, an increase of over 400%.[17]

In September 2014, Nicocigs registered trademarks for a refillable e-cigarette called VYGO,[18] although it did not appear on the market.


While still fragmented, with a large number of independent companies, by 2017 the market leaders in the UK were British American Tobacco brands.[19]

According to Nicocig’s accounts filed at UK Companies House in 2018, the company made a loss of over GB£4.3 million in 2016 and GB£8.8 million in 2017.[20] The accounts also record over GB£14.9 million of “amounts owed to group undertakings”, and state that Nicocigs is a going concern on the assumption of “the continued support of the [sic] its parent company, Philip Morris Holdings B.V.”[20]

In May 2018, PMI announced a contract with Primeline Group. This gave the Irish marketing company distribution and marketing rights for Nicocig and Vivid in Ireland from December of that year.[21]

Selling Altria’s E-Cigarettes

In 2015 PMI started selling Altria’s MarkTen e-cigarette, rebranded as Solaris, in Spain (in March) and Israel (in December). According to Jacek Olczak, at the time PMI’s Chief Financial Officer, “the Solaris brand name conveys a sense of technology and positive energy”.[11][22][23] It was not clear whether PMI was intending to wind down production of these brands, but by 2019 the company’s focus appeared to have shifted to its own e-cigarette (see below).

Image 1. IQOS Mesh on sale on the UK IQOS website (screengrab taken in June 2019, https://uk.iqos.com)

Developed IQOS Mesh

By 2016, PMI had developed an e-cigarette called IQOS Mesh. Confusingly, up to the launch of Mesh, the brand name IQOS was associated exclusively with PMI’s heated tobacco products (see below). Following an all-expenses paid pre-launch event for invited “vape insiders” in Neuchatel, Switzerland,[11][24] IQOS Mesh was first launched in the UK in 2016, but not widely available.[25] After test marketing in London, in July 2018,[5] Mesh went on sale in UK supermarkets (including Sainsbury’s) and petrol station forecourts, as well as IQOS stores.[26]

This e-cigarette is designed to use pre-sealed nicotine cartridges with the brand name VEEV, which come in a range of “gourmet” flavours including, in 2019, “Tobacco Harmony”, “Summer Garden” and “Passion Fruit Zest”, and in three different nicotine levels.[27] Mesh is sold on the IQOS website alongside the company’s heated tobacco products (see image 1).[28] In 2019 the Vivid Vapours website had a prominent redirect to the IQOS site.[14]

There was no specific reference to Mesh sales in publicly available company documents in 2018 or early 2019,[29][30] except that “initial results were promising”.[29] Therefore it is unclear how important IQOS Mesh is to PMI’s business in comparison to their more widely marketed heated tobacco products. According to Euromonitor, PMI launched this product to “take advantage of the fast-growing non-cig-a-like closed system category in the UK”.[31] Although it had a 0.2% share in 2018 in the UK, it was “virtually non-existent” in terms of the global e-vapour market.[16][25]

In May 2019, Calantzopoulos revealed, in an interview about IQOS production in Greece, that they planned to roll out sale of IQOS e-cigarettes internationally in 2020, on the back of IQOS heated tobacco products:

“… if we proceed with our entry into the market of conventional vapes, known as electronic cigarettes, under the IQOS trademark – which, by the way, we will start doing gradually at the end of the next year in various international markets – we will be able to do so through our infrastructure and our greater organization that has already been evolved and knows how to do that through IQOS. The initial cost of entry to the market will be much lower for us. So, the profit margins are improved.”[32]


Nicotine Vapour Product: STEEM

In 2018 PMI said it was developing a new nicotine salt e-cigarette called STEEM. Apparently “inspired by technology acquired from Duke University” in 2011.[33][34] This e-cigarette uses a salt created when ‘freebase’ nicotine[35] is dissolved in acid. This enables higher doses, of more concentrated nicotine, to be consumed.[36] Euromonitor described STEEM as “virtually non-existent” in the international market in 2018. [25]

E-Cigarettes or Heated Tobacco: Where Does PMI’s Interest Lie?

From 2014 it was clear that, in terms of innovation away from traditional cigarettes, PMI believed its future would lie with Heated Tobacco Products (HTPs), rather than e-cigarettes. PMI claims that HTP devices heat tobacco enough to release flavour and nicotine, but not enough to catch fire and produce smoke. These products give consumers a stronger and faster kick of nicotine, more like a regular cigarette. However, at the time, Calantzopoulos said that “the current generation of e-cigarettes generally has a much slower delivery profile than conventional cigarettes, which, together with a weaker taste, explains limited user satisfaction and reduced adoption rates”.[37]

In January 2014, PMI announced that it would be investing up to EUR€500 million (US$680 million) in its first “potentially reduced-risk” tobacco products manufacturing facility in Europe, and an associated pilot plant in Italy.[38][39] Most of this new capacity appeared to be geared towards the production of heated tobacco products. According to Euromonitor, PMI is testing two types of this ‘platform’, one with electronics and one without.[25] For more information see Heated Tobacco Products

Joined Vaping Industry Lobbying Organisations

Between 2017 and 2018, PMI became a member of two European vaping industry associations: the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) which lobbies the UK government on vaping regulation, and Vape Business Ireland, which has as similar role in the Republic of Ireland. Nicolites was also listed as a member of Vape Business Ireland.[40]

Both UKVIA and their “partners” Vape Business Ireland were signatories to a document lobbying the World Health Organization (WHO) on e-cigarette regulation in 2018 with the aim of deregulating vaping products and other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).[41] For more information see UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA)

TobaccoTactics Resources

Notes

  1. S. Cavale, D. K. Kumar , Marlboro make Philip Morris to end e-cigarette business, Reuters, 20 November 2013, accessed May 2019
  2. Philip Morris International, Frequently Asked Questions: What are reduced-risk products, PMI website, undated, accessed May 2019
  3. Philip Morris International, Creating Less Harmful Alternatives to Smoking Cigarettes, PMI website, undated, accessed May 2019
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Philip Morris International, Investor Information April 2019, PMI website, accessed June 2019
  5. 5.0 5.1 Philip Morris International, [PMI annual report 2018], 8 March 2019, accessed May 2019
  6. 6.0 6.1 Philip Morris, Altria team up on cigarette alternatives, Reuters, 20 December 2013, accessed May 2019
  7. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA Requirements for Newly Regulated Tobacco Products, December 2017, accessed October 2019
  8. Philip Morris expands e-cigarette deal with Altria, Reuters, 16 July 2015, accessed May 2019
  9. Altria Group Inc, 2015 Annual Report, 1 March 2016, accessed May 2019
  10. Philip Morris International, Philip Morris International Inc. (“PMI”) Hosts Investor Day: E-Vapour Acquisition, PMI Press Release, 26 June 2014, accessed July 2019
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Philip Morris International, Taking E-Cigarettes Further: E-Vapour Products, PMI website, undated, accessed May 2019
  12. Nicolites Are Changing Their Name to Nicocig, Healthandcare.co.uk, 11 October 2016, accessed June 2019
  13. Philip Morris Limited, Philip Morris (UK and Ireland) Becomes Multi-Category Business, PMI press release, 21 April 2017, accessed June 2019
  14. 14.0 14.1 Vivid Vapours, vividvapours.com, undated, accessed May 2019
  15. Euromonitor International: Nicocig and Vivid Vapors market share by retail value, 2014-2018, accessed September 2019
  16. 16.0 16.1 Euromonitor International: UK e-cigarette market share by retail value, 2014-2018, accessed September 2019
  17. Euromonitor International: UK e-cigarette market value, 2014-2018, accessed September 2019
  18. World Intellectual Property Organization, Global Brand Database: VYGO, accessed July 2019
  19. Euromonitor International: Smokeless Tobacco and Vapour Products in the United Kingdom, Country Report, July 2018, accessed June 2019
  20. 20.0 20.1 Nicocigs Ltd., Nicocigs Limited: Filing History, Full Accounts made up to 31 December 2017, Companies House, 30 November 2018
  21. Primeline Group, Philip Morris Limited announced Primeline Group as its new distribution partner, Primeline.ie, undated, accessed May 2019
  22. B. Page, PMI rebranding Altria MarkTen as Solaris for European launch, ECig Intelligence, 19 February 2015, accessed May 2019
  23. Philip Morris International, Building Leading Brands, PMI website, undated, accessed May 2019
  24. Ed, Philip Morris IQOS Mesh Review, Vaping Post, 17 September 2018, accessed May 2019
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 Euromonitor, Philip Morris International Inc: Global Company Profile, 14 August 2018
  26. Philip Morris International, Stores, IQOS website, undated, accessed May 2019
  27. Philip Morris International, IQOS Mesh: Benefits, uk.IQOS.com, undated, accessed May 2019
  28. What is IQOS Mesh uk.IQOS.com, undated, accessed May 2019
  29. 29.0 29.1 Philip Morris International, AGM Presentation and Script, 1 May 2019
  30. Philip Morris International, Quarterly Earnings Announcements, Earnings Results, First Quarter 2019 and Fourth Quarter 2018, accessed May 2019
  31. Euromonitor International, Smokeless Tobacco, E-Vapour Products and Heated Tobacco in the United Kingdom, Country Report, July 2019
  32. I. Bellos, the Greek who is shaking things up at Philip Morris, ekathimerini.com, 31 May 2019, accessed July 2019
  33. Philip Morris International, FAQ: What are PMI’s new products?, PMI website, undated, accessed May 2019
  34. Philip Morris International, FAQs: What is STEEM?, PMI website, undated, accessed May 2019
  35. Centre for Media and Democracy, Freebase Nicotine, Sourcewatch, 27 September 2017, accessed July 2019
  36. R. Becker, JUUL’s nicotine salts are dominating the market – and other companies want in, The Verge, 21 November 2018, accessed May 2019
  37. T. Cara, What Do Smokers Really Want: E-Cigarettes, or Safer Tobacco?, Wall Street Journal”, 10 January 2014, accessed May 2019
  38. B. F. Rubin, Philip Morris Investing To Produce 'Reduced-Risk' Products, Wall Street Journal, 10 January 2014, accessed May 2019
  39. Philip Morris International, Philip Morris International to invest up to €500 Million in Reduced-Risk Product Manufacturing Facility in Italy, PMI Press Release, 10 January 2014, accessed May 2019
  40. Vape Business Ireland (VBI), Members, VBI website, undated, accessed May 2019
  41. UK Vaping Industry Association, Memorandum of understanding between global vaping trade associations and campaigners, Press Release, 8 October 2019, accessed May 2019