NEW YORK — Philip Morris International (PMI), maker of the IQOS heat-not-burn tobacco device, is expanding its smoke-free initiatives with a partnership to market products from South Korean company KT&G outside of South Korea.
KT&G, based in Daejeon, South Korea, has a portfolio of smoke-free products including heat-not-burn tobacco systems with brands such as Lil Mini and Lil Plus, plus hybrid technologies that combine heat-not-burn tobacco and e-vapor technologies.
The agreement will run for an initial period of three years, officials with New York-based PMI said. The two companies plan for global collaboration with the intention of covering many markets, based on commercial success. The agreement allows PMI to distribute current KT&G smoke-free products, and products that evolve from them, on an exclusive basis, and does not restrict PMI from distributing its own or third-party products.
Officials said products sold under the agreement will be subject to assessment to ensure they meet the regulatory requirements in the markets where they are launched, as well as PMI’s standards of quality and scientific evidence of harm-reduction potential.
“PMI and KT&G will seek any necessary regulatory approvals that may be required on a market-by-market basis,” they said.
“To achieve PMI’s vision of a smoke-free future, we must grow the smoke-free category worldwide, which requires multiple players providing a wide array of better choices for adult smokers,” said Andre Calantzopoulos, PMI’s CEO.
Plans for PMI’s own heat-not-burn device, IQOS, which includes a U.S. rollout through Richmond, Va.-based Altria Group, will continue. Calantzopoulos said PMI plans to broaden its portfolio with a new IQOS Mesh product in the coming months. The new product uses a perforated, metallic mesh to heat e-liquids stored in a self-contained cap, according to PMI’s product website. He said greater choice will drive adoption of noncombustible nicotine-delivery devices.
“Our objective is that all adult smokers who would otherwise continue to smoke switch as soon as possible to better alternatives and abandon cigarettes to the benefit of their health, public health and society at large,” Calantzopoulos said. “To further our ongoing efforts to develop, assess and commercialize our pipeline of science-based smoke-free alternatives to cigarettes, we are always open to collaboration with third parties on products that complement our already-strong portfolio and that we can further enhance.”