The FDA Just Approved The IQOS (For All The Wrong Reasons)

By Drake Equation •  Updated: 05/02/19 •  9 min read

Is the FDA finally on the side of public health? Or it is just looking at ways to ensure it keeps the steady flow of tobacco tax/settlement money flowing into the government’s coffers? Is this the REAL reason why it just approved Phillip Morris’ IQOS tobacco vaporizer pen?

The FDA has just approved the first “vape” device from a Big Tobacco company. Called the IQOS (pronounced “eye-kose”), this device will run on traditional tobacco but unlike traditional cigarettes, it uses a “heat not burn” technology to produce vapor which results in fewer carcinogens.

This is a vaporizer/vape pen. It does not run on E Juice; so it is markedly different to the devices you and I use – they run on E Juice, a liquid made from PG and VG that has been infused with nicotine.

Phillip Morris’ IQOS device is still ALL about actual tobacco. And when it comes to the US, it will be marketed HEAVILY by the JUUL-investing Altria Tobacco company. Expect TV spots and Super Bowl Ads.

Why Doesn’t The IQOS Use E Juice?


Simple: money. Big Tobacco has billions tied up in producing and refining tobacco. It isn’t going to suddenly stop farming and producing it because this would be catastrophic for its bottomline and its main business: cigarettes.

Using tobacco in the product also makes this a true tobacco product, which means it can be taxed as such. In addition to this, IQOS sales will also contribute towards money that is handed over to state governments via the Master Settlement Agreement.

Is This Why The FDA Approved The IQOS – For Money?

Look back through the news from the past couple of years. The FDA, despite its claims to be all about protecting public health, has continually attacked vaping and the vaping industry. It provided no reason for this other than a bunk study about a teen vaping epidemic that doesn’t actually exist.

And now… it’s approved Big Tobacco’s IQOS device. Approved it for sale in America. Approved it for marketing. Why? Tax money, settlement money. The US is addicted to tobacco profits, has been for decades, and devices like the IQOS are its best hope at ensuring it gets its fix in the years and decades to come.

Taxing tobacco is easier than taxing vape products. Most tobacco is grown domestically and is distributed by US companies. You also have the Master Agreement Settlement. The system is set up for cigarettes, has been for decades, but vaping is too new and too hard to regulate.

This is why the FDA has classed vapes and ecigs as “tobacco products” despite the fact they contain NO tobacco. It did it for tax reasons, so it can collect. This is OK for E Juice, domestically produced E Juice, but what about all the hardware coming in from overseas? That’s trickier.

I get the impression the US has been waiting for its Big Tobacco companies to come to the market with something compelling for those looking to quit smoking. Vaping has forced their hand, forcing them to adapt or face extinction. The IQOS is Big Tobacco’s response to vaping.

OK, So How Does The IQOS Work?

As I said: it’s more of a dry herb vaporizer than a traditional ecig or vape. It runs on Marlboro-made “tobacco-filled sticks” that are wrapped in paper and are heated to produce vapor. These tobacco sticks will be available in menthol and unflavored tobacco versions.

“Heating tobacco,” says Phillip Morris, “rather than burning it, may seem like a small change – but it redefines tobacco usage. When you light a cigarette, the tobacco burns at more than 800°C at the tip, creating smoke and ash. IQOS heats tobacco to a temperature up to 350°C, releasing the true tobacco flavor and nicotine without burning the tobacco.”


Phillip Morris also has an E-Liquid IQOS device that is available in the UK; I don’t know whether this has been FDA approved in the US, but I haven’t heard anything about in the documents, so I’m assuming not. Either way, this is Big Tobacco’s first proper swing at the traditional vape market. And it clearly has the FDA on its side.

IQOS HeatControl Technology

This is an exact explanation of how the IQOS heats tobacco:

“IQOS HeatControl Technology is a specially designed and patented technology that monitors and controls the temperature of the IQOS heating blade. The heating blade is made of ceramic incorporating platinum, gold and silver tracks. Through IQOS HeatControl Technology, the tobacco heats to the ideal temperature for 14 puffs or around 6 minutes (whichever comes first) ensuring a consistent tobacco flavor without burning.”

As I said: it’s kind of a hybrid device that sits somewhere between a weed vaporizer and a traditional ecig.

Is The IQOS Why Flavored E Juice is Getting Banned?

This is conjecture on my part, but stick with me: E Juice flavor bans are happening all over the USA. Why? Kids, apparently – even though this has been debunked many, many times. In the FDA’s mind, the only flavors that should be allowed are tobacco and menthol – just like the IQOS runs.

So… is the FDA preparing to effectively crush traditional (non-Master Agreement) vape companies through bans and regulation to clear the way for products from Big Tobacco? Maybe. I mean, the IQOS is now FDA approved. Your RDA and vape mod is not.


The IQOS will contribute to tobacco taxes and the Master Settlement Agreement. Your E Juice and mesh coil tank will not. Viewed in this context, there does appear to be something amiss. Phillip Morris is even using research from Public Health England – research about VAPING – to promote its tobacco-focussed IQOS system.

And the end game, I fear, is that this product – or products like it – will be the only things the FDA approves. If this happens, it will be a death knell for all other traditional vaping devices. You know, the ones we know and love. As noted earlier: this is all speculation on my part, so please take it with a pinch of salt – it’s just a thought, a scary, scary thought…

Can We Ever Forgive Phillip Morris?

Big Tobacco is responsible for millions of deaths. Its products are lethal and, even today, come under less scrutiny than vaping in America. The reason? Mostly because the US Government is addicted to tobacco money. This is the only logical reason why tobacco is still allowed to be sold.

But my question is this: Phillip Morris has known all along that tobacco is deadly, and yet it still makes and sells them to millions of people every day. It is essentially knowingly killing people and making money off it – and it has done this for decades.

Why didn’t Phillip Morris use its money, power, and influence to come up with something like the IQOS 10 years ago? Doing so could have saved millions of lives in the process.

Again, simple: the vaping industry is killing Big Tobacco. It did not create the IQOS because it cares about your health – or because it wanted to. It did it because it HAD to in order to stay in business. The rise of ecigs, despite the lies spouted by the FDA, is unstoppable in the US and the reason for this is simple: people aren’t stupid.

Across the pond, the UK is championing ecigs and vaping in a deliberate manner that runs contrary to what the FDA is saying. People know this, and people are waking up. Access to the internet makes duping people harder. 15 years ago, vaping would be already dead.

The FDA’s only line of attack is that vaping is addicting teenagers to nicotine. This “epidemic” has been debunked multiple times since it was first claimed. Not that it matters; all the FDA has to do is shout the loudest, using the MSM, and it wins the argument. Meanwhile, Public Health England has this to say about vaping:

Who are you going to believe?

I’m with Public Health England on this one. I also will not be supporting Big Tobacco by using its heat-not-burn products. They don’t deserve your money, your time, or your respect.

Phillip Morris has BILLIONS in its coffers. It could have made this product in the early 1990s. But it didn’t. And the reason why is simple: it didn’t have to, so it carried on selling death sticks until someone took action.

And that someone was the vape industry which is now under attack by the FDA.

Go figure…

Drake Equation

Co-founder and Editor of VapeBeat. I make the words.
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