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When Will IQOS Launch in the U.S.?

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When Will IQOS Launch in the U.S.?

IQOS is a longstanding heated tobacco product that was first launched in Japan and Italy in 2014, but which still hasn’t been re-launched in the U.S. We are using the term re-launched here because IQOS actually did have a presence in the U.S. market briefly before it was removed in 2021.

Whether you’re keen to try IQOS for the first time or are looking to return to the brand, here’s everything you need to know.

This piece will answer key questions such as when IQOS will launch in the U.S, what IQOS is anyway, and why the product isn’t available in the U.S. right now.

Here’s everything you need to know.

What is IQOS?

If you’re not familiar with IQOS then you need to know that this is a vape product with a real tobacco taste that is designed to provide a satisfying taste experience without ash, smoke and less smell than cigarettes.

Heated tobacco products like IQOS are a smoke-free alternative to conventional cigarettes. IQOS are considered a great alternative for smokers hoping to switch to alternative products because they emit on average 95% fewer harmful chemicals compared to cigarettes.

Unlike vape products, IQOS ILUMA heated tobacco devices don’t use liquid. This is what sets them apart from traditional vape products.

Why Isn’t IQOS Available in the U.S.?

The first thing to note is that there are no safety concerns surrounding IQOS. The reason the product is yet to launch in the U.S. is much more mundane than that!

Prior to 2021, it was possible to purchase IQOS in the U.S. for a brief period of time. On 29 November 2021, imports and sales of IQOS were halted in the US when the US International Trade Commission ruled that the IQOS device infringed on the patent rights of a rival tobacco company.

In simple terms, IQOS entered a legal spat with British American Tobacco as their product was deemed to be too similar to one of their vaping brands.

But IQOS intends to return to the U.S. market.

When Will IQOS Launch in the U.S.?

So the main question that everyone wants to ask. When will IQOS launch in the U.S.? No formal launch date has been officially announced at this point.

But we do have an extensive investigation from Reuters, which states that investors have been closely watching IQOS' entry into the U.S., the world's largest market for nicotine products, and had been expecting it from May 2024. This means that we should see the re-arrival of IQOS products very soon!

Chief Executive Jacek Olczak said IQOS would launch in four cities in two unnamed U.S. states in 2024, but a national launch would only come after PMI receives approval to sell the latest version, known as IQOS ILUMA. Approval for this product was applied for at the end of last year, and a decision isn’t expected until 2025.

That has since been reduced to a test launch in just one U.S. city this year. That city is expected to be Austin, Texas. Suggestions that the parent company is preparing to launch IQOS in Austin, Texas are based on the analysis of the LinkedIn job adverts from the brand. This also makes sense if IQOS is only looking for a soft launch of their older model product while they’re waiting for the approval to begin selling their far superior IQOS ILUMA model.

Which Product Will IQOS be Launching?

Internationally, IQOS is a big brand with a wide range of products available. But IQOS is not currently available in the U.S. market, and they are introducing themselves to this market very slowly with a small, soft launch.

The product that Philip Morris International (PMI) will launch is the IQOS 3. This is an internal heating product with a blade. This product will be launched in May 2024 (date TBC) in an as yet unnamed metropolitan area that is believed to be Austin, Texas.

It’s worth noting that the IQOS 3 is an older model, and won’t compare to the quality and innovation of the IQOS ILUMA. This is, perhaps, why the launch plan is so small initially.

IQOS 3 was first launched on November 15, 2018, in Japan, Switzerland, the UK, Russia, and Colombia and is sequentially rolled out across the global markets.

This launch is a small test for what the brand hopes will be a much bigger and more significant nationwide launch in 2025. IQOS are seeking approval for their IQOS ILUMA (version 4, induction heating without a blade) product, and hope to have this ready to launch early next year. This nationwide expansion will propel IQOS into wider recognition, turning it into a nationally recognised brand.

Why is This Such Big News?

Everybody is talking about the IQOS U.S. launch. In fact, the IQOS US Launch is considered to be the most anticipated 2024 event in the tobacco world.

This is despite it only involving one city and one older model vaping device, to begin with.

Why? Because vaping is big business. Philip Morris International, the parent company that owns the IQOS brand, is shifting their focus from cigarettes to other forms of tobacco and nicotine consumption. In fact, the company has said that it aims for more than two-thirds of its net revenues to come from "smoke-free" products like its Terea refills by 2030, up from 50% by 2025.

At an investment day, the Chief Executive Officer of the company, Jacek Olczak, said that "If we want to make this company a truly global leader in the nicotine category, you cannot ignore the most profitable and the most sizable nicotine market."

He was referring to alternative nicotine consumption. The most obvious example of this is vaping but Philip Morris International are also investing heavily in tobacco pouch (snus) products.