PMI invests US$320m in smoke-free factory

Article by Adam Duckett

PMI aims to sell 100bn smokeless units per year

CIGARETTES giant Philip Morris (PMI) has unveiled plans to build a US$320m facility to produce smoke-free products in Dresden, Germany.

The plant will produce HEETS – a tobacco-containing ‘heatstick’ that is heated in a special device called IQOS rather than burned as with conventional cigarettes. This heating produces a tobacco-based aerosol that the company says reduces a smoker’s exposure to potentially harmful chemicals by 90–95% compared with regular cigarettes.

The heatsticks are made up of elements that include a tobacco plug, hollow acetate tube, polymer-film filter, and cellulose-acetate mouthpiece filter. Construction of the 80,000 m2 production plant is scheduled to begin in late 2017 and become fully operational in early 2019, employing around 500 people.

The investment is part of the company’s recognition that cigarettes will one day be replaced by smoke-free products.

“This investment represents another step towards a future in which smoke-free products replace cigarettes,” said Frederic de Wilde, president of PMI’s European Union Region. “Already, over two million people have given up smoking and switched to IQOS, and we know this is just the beginning. We are fully committed to meet smoker demand for potentially less harmful alternatives to cigarettes.”

Since 2008, PMI has invested US$3bn developing smoke-free products. It currently produces heatsticks at plants in Italy and Switzerland. The Dresden facility will help lift production of the heatsticks to 100bn units per year.

Earlier this week, Celanese and Blackston, two leading producers of materials for cigarette filters, formed a joint venture to save costs in the wake of falling cigarette demand.

Article by Adam Duckett

Editor, The Chemical Engineer

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