Our companies have a long history of leading the industry. Today, adult tobacco consumers are increasingly seeking new options, including those that reduce risk, and their preferences are likely to continue to evolve at an increasing rate. They also want products that address social frictions like tobacco smoke and the odor and ash that comes with it.
That's why we're leveraging the resources across our companies, and through strategic investments, to offer the most diverse portfolio of products to satisfy evolving adult preferences and convert smokers to lower risk products.
The Role of Nicotine
Nicotine occurs naturally in tobacco plants. While nicotine is addictive, it's the exposure to smoke – not nicotine – that causes most tobacco-related disease. Smoke from the combustion of tobacco contains thousands of chemicals that cause the vast majority of harm from tobacco, including lung cancer, heart disease and emphysema.
Tobacco harm reduction is built on the idea that adult smokers who do not quit should be able to get nicotine from products that are less risky than combustible cigarettes.
Many smokers find nicotine enjoyable, which is why reduced-risk products need to provide a satisfactory nicotine experience. We recognize that comprehensive regulation of tobacco products is necessary to bring these kinds of products to market and let adult smokers know about them.
Chairman & CEO, Altria Group, Inc.
"We are actively preparing for a future where adult smokers overwhelmingly choose non-combustible products. We have long said that providing adult smokers with superior, satisfying products with the potential to reduce harm is the best way to achieve tobacco harm reduction. And that's what we intend to do."
In 2000, Altria became the first and only company in the industry to support FDA regulation of tobacco products. We saw this as an important step to providing accurate and scientifically-grounded communications about reduced risk products to smokers.
Today, the FDA has regulatory authority over all tobacco products. And the FDA distinguishes between the harm associated with combustible versus non-combustible products.
A strong public health consensus has formed that not all tobacco products present the same risk. Public health authorities agree that there is a broad continuum of risk among tobacco products, with cigarettes at the highest end of that spectrum. This continuum recognizes that most of the harm caused by tobacco results from the burning of tobacco.
"A centerpiece of this comprehensive regulatory plan is acknowledging that nicotine, while highly addictive, is delivered through products on a continuum of risk. And it’s the delivery mechanism – not the nicotine itself – that is truly the issue at-hand." - Scott Gottlieb, M.D., Former Commissioner of Food and Drugs
In September 2018, then FDA Commissioner Gottlieb reaffirmed the FDA's central principle that the primary cause of death and disease from tobacco use isn't the nicotine in these products, but the act of combustion, which releases harmful constituents into the body. Since then, the FDA has repeatedly affirmed its view that non-combustible, reduced-risk products may offer a promising opportunity to reduce the harm associated with tobacco use for adults who continue to use tobacco products.
According to data from the FDA's PATH study, over half of adult smokers would consider using a tobacco product if it had a reduced harm claim. This equates to about 22 million adult smokers who are interested in less harmful tobacco products, particularly if they receive truthful and accurate risk information.
Seeking Authorization to Communicate Reduced Harm Information
We can only compete in the marketplace with products authorized by the FDA. And we can only communicate reduced harm information if the FDA permits.
That's why we are seeking authorization from FDA to put truthful, accurate information about reduced-risk products in the hands of consumers so that they can make a choice that's right for them.
To date, we have:
- Submitted a Modified Risk Tobacco Product application (MRTPA) for Copenhagen Snuff.
- Supported Philip Morris International (PMI) on its MRTPA application for IQOS. Philip Morris USA has an exclusive agreement with PMI to commercialize IQOS in the United States.
We believe it is critically important that FDA take steps to foster the innovation of potentially reduced risk products. For tobacco harm reduction to be successful, a marketplace of FDA-authorized reduced-risk products must be in place, with more information about the relative risks of those products being communicated to adult smokers. The regulatory system should respect the rights of adults to make decisions based on accurate information. To make this a reality, FDA needs to establish clear foundational rules for bringing these new innovative products to market.