Philip Morris Korea Inc. on Tuesday reasserted the safety of its popular heat-not-burn cigarette IQOS by revealing the findings of its test on mice that were exposed to its heated tobacco product less than three months after it defended its smokeless cigarette with another clinical test result in June.
In a press conference in central Seoul on Tuesday, the foreign tobacco major unveiled the results of its latest study on the effect of steam from its smokeless tobacco product IQOS on cancer occurrence. The experiment was conducted on A/J mice specifically inbred for testing lung cancer and pulmonary emphysema. The mice were divided into three groups, and each group was respectively exposed to tobacco smoke, IQOS steam, and just air over a period of 18 months. Philip Morris found that the group exposed to IQOS steam showed lower risk of lung carcinoma and multiple sclerosis versus that exposed to smoke from traditional cigarettes and similar level compared to that exposed to just air.
The tobacco maker said that the risk of lung carcinoma and multiple sclerosis in the group of mice exposed to general tobacco smoke significantly increased as compared to those exposed to air. It also added that IQOS steam reduces genetic damage and infection as compared to smoke from traditional cigarettes.
The latest finding announcement comes less than three months after Philip Morris in June strongly defended its popular heat-and-burn cigarette product IQOS by revealing the result of another clinical test comparing the effect of the smokeless cigarettes and traditional cigarettes in response to Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety’ finding that smokeless cigarettes contain higher level of tar as to conventional ones.
The ministry early June said that based on foreign research documents including those from the World Health Organization, there is no evidence that heated tobacco products are less harmful than traditional cigarettes and that some electronic cigarettes have higher tar level than conventional ones.
But Philip Morris argued that the ministry’s study, like many other results from overseas, even showed that smokeless tobacco steam contains 90 percent less amount of nine harmful substances nominated by WHO than general cigarettes sold in Korea.
In the press briefing on Tuesday, it again urged the ministry to clarify its finding saying that the simple comparison in tar level is misleading as the smoke produced from combustion and the aerosol from heat-not-burns have completely different constituents.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare decided to attach graphic health warning labels, currently applied to conventional cigarettes, to heat-not-burn products in the latter half of this year based on its finding. Philip Morris Korea could face punitive action if found guilty of false or exaggerated advertising on the safety of its smokeless cigarettes.
By Park Joon-hyung and Lee Eun-joo
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