Heated tobacco products (HTPs) are electronic devices that heat tobacco. Some research suggests that smokers who switch completely from combustible cigarettes to HTPs substantially reduce their exposure to harmful chemicals. However, it is not clear if this transfers to reduced risk. Awareness and use of HTPs are steadily increasing in countries like Japan, Italy and South Korea, with Philip Morris International’s (PMI) ‘IQOS’ as the HTP with the highest market share globally. In 2021, PMI stated to investors that its goal is for half of its revenues in the next 4 years to be represented by ‘smoke-free’ products, of which IQOS is a leading brand. PMI maintains that IQOS is intended for adult smokers only, and not marketed to youth or non-smokers.
The success of emerging products, such as IQOS, requires investing in advertisements and promotions. Advertisement can increase brand awareness, recall, experimentation and subsequent use of new products, and maintain brand loyalty. Tobacco advertising exposure, including exposure to electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) and HTP ads, is a key factor associated with experimentation, initiation and continued use, particularly among youth and young adults. A study assessing IQOS adspend (advertisement expenditure) after its initial launch in the USA found that from August 2019 to April 2021, PMI spent $4.9 million on advertising, with 99% of adspend in online channels.