In September Philip Morris International (PMI) inaugurated its first manufacturing facility for large scale production of two heated tobacco alternatives to cigarettes. The announcement was made at an event at the factory in the presence of the Italian prime minister, Matteo Renzi. The initial annual production capacity of the factory will be approximately 30 billion units.
“Our ambition is to lead a full-scale effort to ensure that non-combustible products ultimately replace cigarettes to the benefit of adult smokers, society, our company and our shareholders,” said André Calantzopoulos, PMI’s chief executive officer. “This factory is a milestone in our roadmap toward this paradigm shift. This investment underscores our strong commitment to Italy and in particular to the Bologna region, which is not only home to one of our most technologically advanced filter factories located in Zola Predosa, but which also offers great infrastructure and, most importantly, access to exceptional human talent.”
Representing an anticipated investment of approximately €500 million, this state-of-the-art facility currently employs over 300 people and, when fully operational, may employ up to 600. PMI affiliates in Italy already employ over 1,000 people. The pre-existing pilot plant will gradually become a training center to continue to develop PMI’s manufacturing know-how and serve as a knowledge-hub for other PMI manufacturing facilities.
PMI’s investment in the development and rigorous scientific assessment of products with the potential to present less risk of harm compared to cigarettes spans more than a decade. It encompasses a wide range of tobacco and non-tobacco product platforms. The tobacco heating device iQOS, the first of these products to be commercialized in November 2014, is now sold in cities in 10 countries, and PMI has plans to expand sales to key cities in an additional 10 markets before the end of the year. Results of commercialization to date are encouraging. Extensive research to validate the product’s potential to present less risk of harm compared to continued cigarette smoking is well advanced with very promising results to date. Any conclusion on reduced disease risk will be based on the totality of the evidence.