Philip Morris to Introduce Lower-Risk Cigarettes by 2017

"On eve of what we all believe could be paradigm shift for industry": Camilleri

Louis Camilleri (left), Andre Calantzopoulos

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Philip Morris International Inc. (PMI) said it plans to sell a new type of cigarette that poses lower health risks by 2017, according to a Bloomberg report.

The company is developing three products that would be sold under existing brands such as Marlboro, and the most advanced is a cigarette that heats tobacco rather than burning it, chief operating officer Andre Calantzopoulos said in a speech prepared for a meeting Thursday with investors in Lausanne, Switzerland.

"We are on the eve of what we all believe could be a paradigm shift for our industry," chief executive officer Louis Camilleri said in a speech.

The new products have "the very real potential to not only be a game-changer, but also be the key to unlock several hitherto virgin territories, most notably the huge Chinese market."

Tobacco companies have spent decades trying to develop a safer alternative to smoking, including a 1988 test of Premier, a heated-tobacco smokeless cigarette that its maker, now called Reynolds American Inc. (RAI), dropped in about a year, said the report.

"PMI [is] far more advanced than I had expected," Erik Bloomquist, a London-based analyst at Berenberg Bank, told the news agency.

The "most promising" lower-risk products would heat tobacco or generate aerosol that consumers inhale, New York City-based PMI said. The heated-tobacco device is ready for clinical testing, and manufacturing of lower-risk cigarettes would start in three to four years, Calantzopoulos said.

A second product under development would be lit with a normal lighter, while a third uses a chemical reaction to make an aerosol that contains nicotine.

"We have to remain, however, alert to the fact that there may be bumps in the road, given the many complexities of this undertaking," Calantzopoulos said.

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