In 2019, nine of 15 companies offered at least one reduced-risk option in their portfolios. Companies are offering various reduced-risk alternatives which provide existing high-risk product users with a wider offer of reduced-risk alternatives and accelerate harm reduction.
Philip Morris International Inc (PMI) is an example of a company that started with a single-product focus but is now expanding across other reduced-risk categories. Although sales of its flagship heated tobacco product, IQOS, have been strong – first launched in 2014, the product expanded to 52 markets by 2019 – the company has acknowledged that delivering a ‘smoke-free future’ requires “a portfolio approach that addresses a range of adult smoker preferences and occasions in order to maximize full switching.” Therefore, PMI is developing additional reduced-risk products such as cartridges.
Reduced-risk options need to appeal to different high-risk product consumer types in order to achieve significant public health gains.
British American Tobacco Plc (BAT)’s belief in a “multi-category future” is supported by its simultaneous engagement in all reduced-risk categories. BAT offers seven different reduced-risk alternatives – cartridges, e-liquids, heated tobacco, snus, non-tobacco nicotine pouches, and NRT products, which have different levels of risk associated with their consumption. It appears that the company is focused on providing different products for different use cases.
The other manufacturers have product portfolio strategies that fall between these two approaches. Several companies have well-established offers in at least two categories. For example, Imperial Brands Plc (Imperial) and Japan Tobacco Inc (JTI) are expanding in cartridges, while also participating in snus and non-tobacco nicotine pouches. KT&G Corp (KT&G) is active in heated tobacco and recently added cartridges to its product offer, while AB (Swedish Match) expanded its snus and non- tobacco nicotine pouches. Six companies offer products in the three most popular reduced-risk categories, heated tobacco, cartridges, and snus.
Offering a wider variety of reduced-risk products supports tobacco harm reduction by providing more alternatives to high-risk product users. Reduced-risk options need to appeal to different high-risk product consumer types in order to achieve significant public health gains.