Bertrand Bonvin is one of the researchers at Phillip Morris International Inc. These researchers are still working at developing healthy cigarettes. They are looking at a holy grail that can address nicotine cravings, but with no health downsides.
Bonvin is the head of research for this Now-York-based company. According to him, it is the way nicotine is delivered that makes cigarettes dangerous along with tobacco by-products resulting from tobacco burning. He said that there is a space in the market for electronic cigarettes, but the concerns of many are their lack of regulation and product quality.
Phillip Morris International is the biggest publicly traded company of tobacco in the world. It is now putting tobacco in its new healthy cigarettes. It is a product aimed at satisfying the cravings of smokers for the taste of traditional cigarettes that Marlboro cowboy smoked.
Bonvin takes puffs from a device inside the laboratory and it looks like an indented fountain pen. A custom built cigarette must be inserted inside to heat the tobacco and generate aerosol mist. The temperature is significantly lower that the temperature generated in a traditional cigarette.
He said that the health risks are lowered but this device is still in need of improvements to copy the taste, behavioral experience and nicotine delivery of a real cigarette.
PMI Competitors On A Different Direction
British American Tobacco, the biggest tobacco player in Europe is using a different technology of aerosol that is usually found in asthma inhalers.
According to PMI and BAT, their products are not smoke cessation devices, but more like healthy cigarettes that can deliver smokers with additionally satisfying and safer smoking experience.
Paul Triniman is the CEO of Kind Consumer. It is a company based in London that is supported by Terry Leahy, former CEO of Tesco Plc. Kind Consumer licensed its products to Nicoventures, a subsidiary of BAT. Triniman said that many smokers try ecigarettes, but they do not stick with them.
These ecigs, according to Triniman, are not effective nicotine delivery system and have not affected tobacco stocks at all.
Ecigs Are Threats To Tobacco
Analyst James Bushnell from Exane BNP Baribas said that electronic cigarettes are the biggest possible threats to tobacco.
He said that both PMI and BAT are investing on ecigarettes but the difference lies on the strategy and approach these two tobacco companies are implementing.
BAT has introduced its own brand of ecigarettes, the Vype. PMI has 2 technologies being developed. PMI chose to move further than those technologies.
BAT also has its other product, the Voke, which it has presented to its investors back in September. Voke promises delivery of nicotine in cold aerosol form. It uses a patented valve operated by the user’s breath that can create the cold aerosol nicotine in as fast as 12 seconds.
Voke has two parts that are held in a case that mimics the appearance of real cigarette. The user will dip the stick into a canister of aerosol to get nicotine and it is ready to be puffed. The creator of Voke was Alex Hearn, an asthmatic graduate of Oxford and ex-smoker. He started working on Voke 2001 and made about 800 and more prototype before the final outcome was made.
Right now, voke awaits UK health regulation license. Pending approval, the device will be sold in the British market by next year.
Legal Status Of Ecigs
In the UK, the MHRA has announced that starting 2016; all products delivering nicotine such as electronic cigarettes will be subjected to the same standards and licensing implemented on medicinal products. This means ecig companies need to submit their products for medicinal licensing first before they can start selling or continue selling their products in the market.
However, the European parliament members recently rejected a proposal to treat ecigs as medicines, although the products need to be seriously regulated.