July 7, 2020

STATEMENT: FDA approves IQOS as “modified risk tobacco product”

Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave Philip Morris Products S.A.’s “IQOS Tobacco Heating System” the green light for sale as a ‘modified risk tobacco product’. The FDA’s approval process allows the tobacco industry to consult on and inform the regulation of the very products that the industry seeks to sell, thus jeopardizing the validity of this regulation. 

Please see below for a statement from Michél Legendre, Associate Campaign Director at Corporate Accountability. 

“In a disappointing and dangerous decision, the FDA is allowing Philip Morris to market its new Trojan horse, iQOS, as a “less risky” tobacco product. Allowing this questionable claim does not change the fact that iQOS is a tobacco product. The science is murky on harm reduction, but it’s clear that these products will only continue to addict people to tobacco products. The timing is particularly egregious: Tobacco use exacerbates COVID-19, and Big Tobacco continues to be the main hurdle to public health regulation that truly protects and ensures healthy lungs and people. 

Although this decision is clearly at odds with the FDA’s edict to “ensure a healthier life for every family,” it’s not surprising that a process that welcomes tobacco industry input has failed to meaningfully protect people from harmful products and the marketing that accompanies them. The FDA is now complicit in PMI’s years-long effort to addict people to its old wine in a new bottle.

What’s more, iQOS was launched first in Atlanta, GA—a rare Black American metropolis–and then in Richmond, VA—where Philip Morris got its start and an epicenter of the theft of Black lives and labor through enslavement. Philip Morris has no qualms about continuing to destroy the health and lives of Black people for profit. We need real public health policy that equitably protects people, not half-baked warning labels that enable a deadly industry.”

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