The Year of Undying Hope: Lebanon Heating Up, Not Burning

A lot can change in one year and the Lebanese people can tell you plenty about that. Economies can fall apart; pandemics can cripple every aspect of your life; and your savings can disappear overnight. That's quite a gloomy perspective. Fortunately, not everything in the past year was utterly catastrophic, as some things - although few - actually changed for the better.

A year ago, thousands of adult Lebanese smokers decided to put their trust in science, innovation, and technology, taking a bold decision that would change the quality of the air they breathe while significantly reducing their health risks.

In fact, after more than 13 years of work and over USD 7.2 billion invested in the scientific research, development and commercialization of advanced smoke-free products led by more than 400 scientists, engineers and experts, Philip Morris International Inc. (PMI) - the global leader in innovative smoke-free products - released the IQOS 3 DUO in Lebanon on February of 2020. The device was the most advanced version of IQOS, the world’s leading heated tobacco product. It provided adult Lebanese smokers - who would otherwise continue to smoke - with a better alternative to cigarettes.

With alarmingly high numbers of adult smokers among the Lebanese population, IQOS seemed to have hit a spot. Building on the principle of heating tobacco at 350°C rather than burning it, the IQOS offered an equally-satisfying, nicotine-based experience to smoking cigarettes, with 95% lower levels of harmful chemicals. However, that did not necessarily mean a 95% reduction in risk as IQOS is not risk-free. Still, the product's advantages outweighed the risks: no smoke, less lingering appalling smell, no ash, less combustible chemicals, and no second-hand smoking.

It was a sweet deal, and the Lebanese smoker was hooked on the idea of switching to scientifically substantiated better alternatives to cigarettes, although quitting tobacco and nicotine containing products altogether is the healthiest way to go. The good news is that with Heat-not-Burn (HnB) products, the world is getting there one smoker at a time.

This comes in alignment with PMI's new mission to transform the tobacco industry and create a smoke-free future, with more than 17 million smokers having made the leap to IQOS already, including 72% who have completely quit smoking as of December 31, 2020. Moreover, PMI expects that 40 million adult smokers will switch to smoke-free devices by 2025, and is championing the path of research and development in this direction, with over 4,600 patents granted and over 6,300 pending applications on their smoke-free products.

In just a few years, IQOS had become available in 64 international markets, including Italy, Germany, Ireland, Japan, and the United States where the FDA authorized the sale of the device as a "Modified Risk Tobacco Product".  

Among the many reasons behind the product's success are the sleek appearance, the convenient design, and the high functionality, meeting modern consumer's preferences, in addition to complying with rigorous regulatory requirements. The IQOS 3 DUO design features the fastest and most powerful holder within the IQOS family, allowing two consecutive uses without recharging the holder. PMI is rapidly developing new models with enhanced features, noting that it introduced the IQOS 3 DUO only a year after the release of the widely successful IQOS 3 MULTI, to keep up with consumers' fast-changing needs and expectations.

Commenting on this milestone, Managing Director for Egypt & Levant Vassilis Gkatzelis said “we are proud of what we were able to achieve in Lebanon, despite the challenging environment and the sad events of 2020. The Lebanese people have shown resilience and strong will, and I am impressed how despite all the challenges, they keep pushing forward. Our team in Lebanon has quickly adapted to the change and digitalized our operating model, which helped PMI continue its journey towards a smoke-free future. Our first priority has always been the safety and security of our employees, their families and the broader communities.”

The launch of IQOS has undoubtedly accelerated the switch from cigarettes to better alternatives in Lebanon. Such an innovation has surely come in handy over the past year, as the Lebanese were forced to spend most of their time indoors in light of the successive lockdowns. By using IQOS, they spared themselves and their loved ones the dangers of smoking cigarettes, especially in confined spaces. In one year, the Lebanese might have faced many challenges and things might have heat up. Yet, all was not lost, nor burnt for that matter, for where there is hope, there's always means to innovate, break through, and move forward.

This article is brought to you by Philip Morris Lebanon.





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