A Philip Morris iQOS smoking device. Picture: REUTERS
A Philip Morris iQOS smoking device. Picture: REUTERS

Davos — Philip Morris International is ratcheting up its efforts to become the world’s largest maker of alternatives to cigarettes and indicated that it has not given up on a potential reunion with sister company Altria Group at some point in the future.

Philip Morris is getting ready to launch a new vaping device, IQOS Mesh, early in 2020, CEO Andre Calantzopoulos told Bloomberg News in an interview in Davos, Switzerland. There “will be consolidation in the market for e-cigarettes” and Philip Morris wants to be on the forefront with its IQOS brand, which also sells devices that heat tobacco rather than burning it, he said.

Philip Morris’s merger talks with Altria failed in 2019 amid mounting controversy over the health effects of Juul, the top-selling e-cigarette device Altria has invested in. Asked in the same interview whether Philip Morris could one day revisit a deal, COO Jacek Olczak said “the chapter is closed but not the book”. Both companies continue to work together on the IQOS device, he said. Altria markets that product in the US and Philip Morris elsewhere.

Philip Morris will launch its e-vapour IQOS Mesh product in the next few months and could roll out the vaping pen in the 52 markets where it is already selling its IQOS heat sticks, according to Olczak.

Calantzopoulos also lambasted the World Health Organisation, which rejects engagement with any tobacco companies, for being “stuck in the past” and contrasted its stance with many national regulators, which have approved the sale of alternatives to cigarettes.