The tobacco industry has never been a shining example of honesty. For instance, Philip Morris International (PMI), one of the largest tobacco companies, claims it dreams of a smoke-free future…but still sells cigarettes that kill over 11,000 Hoosiers every year. The industry has known for decades that its products are deadly and nicotine is addictive but has openly lied about this to the public. And now, 11 years after the US Department of Justice ruled that the industry must confess to its many lies, we are seeing corrective statements broadcast across various news outlets, informing the public about the reality of these deadly products. The newest update to Reuter’s investigative series “The Philip Morris Files” is shining a light on some fishy clinical studies practices- discovered by PMI’s own researchers.
iQOS, or “I Quit Ordinary Smoking”, is PMI’s newest product that heats up tobacco-laced ‘heat sticks’ to mimic the sensation of smoking a traditional cigarette. This product is not available stateside, but PMI has been touting that their studies found iQOS releases 90-95% fewer toxic chemicals than cigarettes.
Can we trust PMI’s research? Some of their own researchers say no. Researchers at different clinical study labs in Japan have been experiencing problems with obtaining informed consent from participants, participant honesty, and incompetent research investigators. Some investigators were chosen to run trials even though they had no prior experience or knowledge of tobacco.
Trials in Poland ran in to some problems as well. One company researcher spoke up when she noticed that urine samples collected in Poland exceeded the amount that a human would be able to produce in one day. PMI claimed that nothing was wrong as the samples came from ‘large Polish men’. The researcher was then excluded from all future conversations and meetings.
We need to be especially careful and analytical when it comes to examining research when it comes to the safety of this product.