ATLANTA—Altria has brought IQOS to the United States at last. On Friday, the tobacco company will officially unveil its heat-not-burn product at the new IQOS store in Altanta, CNBC reports. After more than two years of regulatory paperwork, IQOS provides a nicotine rush like cigarettes but with fewer toxins.
“It’s perfect timing,” said Michael Lavery, an analyst at Piper Jaffray. “I don’t think they would have expected some consumer uncertainty around vapor coinciding with the launch of IQOS in the U.S.”
In April, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave the go-ahead for Altria to sell IQOS in the United States under marketing regulations to ensure only adults use the device.
Altria and Philip Morris International developed IQOS together, then Philip Morris continued the work once the two companies separated in 2008. Philip Morris debuted IQOS in Japan and Italy five years ago, with the device now in 49 markets. Altria has the licensing agreement to market IQOS in the United States.
In Russia and Japan, IQOS has become popular, but it has yet to catch on in the United Kingdom and Canada. IQOS uses real tobacco, heating the leaves rather than burning them, which doesn’t ignite the chemical process smoking does that releases harmful toxins.
Altria will only sell the devices at its own kiosks and stores, but IQOS heatsticks will have a wider distribution. The company has plans to open a second store in Atlanta in a few weeks, plus have mobile stores in the city and popup kiosks in convenience stores.