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Tricks behind a smokescreen

Tricks behind a smokescreen

While humanity is gradually getting rid of global nicotine addiction, tobacco company Philip Morris International fights for a place in the "dollar sun" and aggressively promotes IQOS. They offer the world new "fun", posing as a safe, but in fact they are discarded on 10 years ago difficult achievements of countries, fighting smoking.

A large part of the youth of the whole world happily accepted the idea of, that IQOS is not smoking. And this is the main cunning of its producers..

Children are our potential

Veronica 16 years, she lives in Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia. In the past year, while shopping with friends in Serbia, she bought IQOS - "icos" and decided to try "something like smoking", as she put it.

She was four years old, when the country introduced a ban on smoking, so the girl did not find the times, "Covered in smoke" - then people smoked right in bars and restaurants, in workplaces and parks.

Veronica heard something about the dangers of smoking, but considers, that this only applies to cigarettes. She sees no threat in her aikos. "This is not really a cigarette. Not real, judging by, what do I know about smoking ", - she says and is going to replenish her collection, consisting of three devices, fourth. Now she dreams of a "chic pink" IQOS.

North Macedonia has matured a market for active young users, but they still have to travel to neighboring Balkan countries for the device.

Do not believe your eyes

They call it an art object, fashion accessory, scientifically advanced gadget - whatever, just not a device for using tobacco. Recently, the gadget was "dubbed" even as a solution out of boredom, caused by COVID-19.

This is how Philip Morris International positions its stellar product. (SMEs), one of the giants of the global tobacco industry.

The company has updated its strategy: now it is selling a revolutionary way of delivering nicotine to the lungs of its customers - aerosol. This is a patented system, where no tobacco is burned, as in a regular cigarette at a temperature of 900 ° C, but only heated by electricity at 350 ° C.

IQOS manufacturer claims, what if the tobacco does not burn, but just heats up and smolders, then it forms significantly less toxic substances - the difference is almost 95%. Allegedly, this makes the new method more harmless and for those, who smokes, for those, who are near.

Tobacco giant PMI has already bombarded the authorities and the press with "independent examinations", which prove, what is more useful to take a drag on IQOS, how to smoke a cigarette. But the piquancy of the situation is, that most of the studies were ordered and paid for by the company itself.

Professor at the University of Bath (United Kingdom) Anna Gilmore studies the tobacco industry. She pays attention, that there are truly independent IQOS studies. There are few of them, but their conclusions about the safety of the device there are completely different: harm, put on the body in perspective, exist.

When PMI tried to get IQOS approved for sale in the United States, she labeled it as "risk modified tobacco product". Despite this, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not agree with this "presentation". They have replyed, what, perhaps, this device produces less toxins, than regular cigarettes, but the FDA has not yet received evidence, that it is more useful for the body, especially after long use.

Italy came to the same conclusions, but the analysis report, Unfortunately, never published.

Do not wash, Tak kataniyem

Anti-smoking groups have pressured the industry for decades, and it gave results: major tobacco producers were forced to admit, what yes - cigarettes lead to cancer and other serious problems, such as emphysema and heart disease.

Dozens of countries have established strict restrictions - from banning smoking in certain zones, to complete rejection of advertising.

This was done in accordance with the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (RKBT) - a significant treaty, adopted by WHO and entered into force in 2005 g. The main method, which should "heal" humanity: needs to be reduced like the demand for tobacco, so is his proposal.

The past 15 years, and there have been some changes in the tobacco industry. AT 2019 PMI launched a global campaign "Unsmoke Your World". She encourages smokers to stop using regular cigarettes and accompanies the action with good and correct theses: “Society expects, that we will act responsibly ", - said on the official website of the company. “We are creating the future, smoke free ".

Really, smoking is declining, and in some places - in Europe, in rich countries in Asia and Latin America, - considered a habit of declassed items. Cigarette sales plummet worldwide. PMI decided to accelerate this decline, switching the consumer to your new product. Only this will not save the world from smoking - the goals of the tobacco manufacturer are completely different..

The manufacturer has made big bets on IQOS and has high hopes. The dominant theme at PMI shareholders' meetings is now one - IQOS, and we hardly talk about traditional cigarettes. Still would! Each unit of a new product gives a profit, not comparable to conventional tobacco products, and it is growing at a gigantic pace. If in 2016 year revenue from IQOS amounted to $700 million, it for 2019 it's already $5,6 billion. Growth eightfold in just three years!

Sleight of hand

Philip Morris does not stop on propaganda about the alleged health benefits of IQOS. Another key promotion strategy: the smoking device itself was separated from another component - tobacco sticks, which are used with it.

In a number of countries, the gadget is not subject to "tobacco" tax and exists in an undefined regulatory status., because it can be sold separately from "consumables" - the actual cigarettes.

This trick opened the entire advertising world to the manufacturer., which is unattainable for other "tobacco workers", limited by law.

Street ads and billboards featuring IQOS are commonplace in Japan, and by the way, this is a country, which signed the FCTC and introduced tobacco laws. Not only in shopping centers in Romania, but also in the metro appeared with the brand logo and the slogan "Unsmoke" - "No smoking".

Philip Morris attracts sponsors there, where tobacco products cannot have them and places advertisements on Formula 1 cars (at races in Japan and Australia), at the medical conference (Romania) and a cult festival of musical subcultures (in Colombia), featuring singer Lana Del Rey and British band Arctic Monkeys.

In Ukraine and Japan, in Germany and Great Britain, as well as other countries, investigative journalists observed the actions, where they offered to try IQOS test versions or stick samples for free.

In Bucharest, “Qreator Hub” has been chosen as a platform for advertising campaigns - a place, attracting creative youth community. Free master classes and theater performances are held here, sell limited edition designer items. Visitors spend a lot of time in the bar of the hub, where there are ashtrays on the tables, and on each - the IQOS logo.

But in Italy, an incident occurred with advertising. Philip Morris paid for articles in the culinary magazine Cooked and Eaten and shared recipes, prepared according to the "HeatControl" method - "heating control", which is allegedly based on IQOS technology. But since tobacco advertising in the Italian press is illegal, Competition Authority imposed € 0.5m fine on PMI. The hidden advertising of the clever trick did not work here..

Make it fashionable and sell anything

IQOS public image has increased, and shops, where are they sold, resemble Apple salons in elegance.

Philip Morris Germany Manager proudly noted, that a lot of high quality wood is used in the interior of the new boutiques: ash and walnut. Stores are opening on the main streets in all major cities of the country.

In Italy they are called "embassies", decorate with art installations and architectural delights. for example, Rome's interior is decorated with recycled bottle caps and nicotine molecule designs.

PMI doesn't skimp on spectacular gestures: at Milan Design Week, the company hired renowned British illusionist architect Alex Chinnek. Inspired by IQOS ideas, he created a giant installation on the wall of a building: the zipper reveals an unearthly light, hidden under a boring facade.

The artist named his creation "Night Splashes and a Full Spoon of Light", and the message of the art object is: discovery and disclosure of the future.

The designers also worked on the device itself. It looks, as an expensive accessory: streamlined smooth, with chrome trim, in the colors of various precious stones.

Win-win - "Limited Edition Specials", such as the recent spring / summer promotion 2020 in Cosmopolitan Ukraine with the version "aquamarine". Color was presented, as one of the most fashionable of the season, and ads were buzzing all over the country.

Awl in a bag

Designers are free to express themselves as much as they want and sing the grace of IQOS, at the same time, the "Heets" and "Marlboro Heets" sticks themselves can be purchased only in retail outlets, licensed to sell tobacco.

Separating the device and sticks is a strict adherence to the PMI strategy. The company is aggressively lobbying around the world for a new regime and a completely new classification for its heated product., convincing, that "he is not the same". Violent attempts were made at the FCTC conference in 2018 year.

Conference press secretary Taylor Billings notes with frustration: “Everything is done, to create a separate policy. Every lobbying shift, which you notice, is actually aimed at, so that they are not subject to such high taxes, so that they don't have marketing barriers, so that they can trade near schools or at children's parties ".

Moira Gilchrist, PMI's Assistant to the President for Strategic and Scientific Affairs strongly disagree, that her company is breaking anti-smoking laws. She calls the launch of IQOS a "crusade", which breaks through continuous prohibitions.

Gilchrist believes, what is wrong, if smokers are not given truthful information, but even worse, that they are misled, because if they don't know, that there is a less harmful alternative, then they will continue to smoke cigarettes.

Good purpose, but in fact - not active smokers try IQOS with interest, and gullible and unclouded youth.

The fight is hard, but the stakes are high

Representatives of Philip Morris "broke" into the Senate and Chamber of Deputies of Romania right during the discussion of the bill. New anti-tobacco law provided for a tax on heating devices at the same rate, as for traditional cigarettes, not in size 1/6, like now. Besides, a ban was imposed on product promotion in public places and the distribution of free samples.

Contrary to the rules, "tobacco workers" openly attended debates and special sessions of parliament, and also used by two groups of activists, to oppose restrictions. The main message of their protest: the law nullifies investments, which industry makes, and among them the costs of research by scientists.

A similar situation happened in Ukraine, where Philip Morris also actively lobbies its interests and inhibits the adoption of the law on the new tax rate. FROM 2017 by 2019 year the human rights group "Ukrainian Fund for Economic Freedoms" received from the tobacco company about $0,5 million. The founder of the group, Marian Zablotsky, is currently a member of parliament.. He pushes his bill hard, smoking IQOS indoors. In PMI Marketing Language, Zablotskiy supports the idea of ​​"smokeless tobacco".

There are certain shifts in this direction.: Ukrainian State Food Safety Service issues IQOS certificate, confirming, that this device is "not for smoking", that is, it can be used everywhere, where smoking is usually prohibited.

In Colombia, PMI provides financial incentives for groups, politically influential. For this they had to block laws that are more inconvenient for "tobacco workers". Some high-ranking officials had very close ties to the tobacco company.. for example, Deputy Finance Minister Juan Alberto Londoño is still in 2010 worked in the Columbia branch of Philip Morris as a government relations manager.

The journalist follows the trail

logically, that PMI's invention should have the same status, like other tobacco products in any country, which signed the "Convention" against tobacco, but manufacturers are ready to fight to the last, so that it never happens.

Journalists launched the Blowing Unsmoke project ("Blowing out smoke") and are investigating in several countries: in Italy and Romania, in Japan, where did IQOS come to 2014 year, in Colombia, where the device is promoted very actively, and in Macedonia, where the novelty is just entering the market.

Collected many exclusive documents, interviews and comments from politicians, scientists, as well as former Philip Morris employees. The situation is the same everywhere: the company uses gray areas of legislation, and uses research as a scientific basis, which she herself paid.

Advertising annoyingly presents IQOS as a "clean" device, fashionable and funny, but has nothing to do with harmful smoking. The company's marketers are painting the future for us, in which "smokeless tobacco" will win, and then it will take over the whole world.

A source