[THE INVESTOR] The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said on Feb. 26 it is still conducting tests to fully analyze the harmful ingredients contained in tobacco giant Philip Morris International’s heat-not-burn cigarettes IQOS, refuting a recent news report saying it intentionally hid the results on harmful effects vis-a-vis conventional cigarettes.
"Tests to identify the toxic substances in IQOS, such as tar, are still underway,” a spokesperson from the ministry told The Investor, adding it is not true that the Food Ministry tried to conceal the results. “As soon as the tests are completed, we will announce the results and testing methods.”
The official added they took a great deal of time just to establish the testing methods for the HNB cigarettes, and to consult with experts.
The ministry began a series of tests in July last year to verify the ingredients of the vapor created by HNB cigarettes. There have been rumors that the ministry’s tests were based on Health Canada and the International Standards Organization’s analytic methods that are usually for conventional cigarettes.
After deciding that new methods are required for testing HNB cigarettes, the ministry has reportedly formulated a new testing system.
The government spokesperson said the ongoing analysis is aimed at identifying the nine ingredients contained in tar, including benzopyrene, cadmium, nickel and arsenic, which, according to the World Health Organization, can cause cancer or lung diseases.
The tests are drawing much attention as HNB cigarettes have been gaining popularity here. Launched in June last year, IQOS’s market share stood at over 9 percent in Korea as of January, according to industry data. Independently conducted tests by Philip Morris show the levels of toxic chemicals found in IQOS vapor to be 90 percent or less compared to those of the convention cigarettes.
By Kim Young-won (firstname.lastname@example.org)