Homepage / Technology / Special Report: Philip Morris device knows a lot about your smoking habit
Top VC deals: Kroger buys Home Chef, PayPal buys iZettle and Rover raises $155 million Next time you buy a TV at Best Buy, you may be offered health care, too MVP robots won't take football players' jobs, but they may just save their legs The government could save $1 billion by combining its 12,062 data centers — but it's behind plan Elon Musk may actually be making a website to rate journalists for credibility and 'core truth' Bank of America outlines tips investors can use to beat the market Silicon Valley investors explain why they're scared of China YouTube Music is really good, but probably not enough to pull you away from Spotify Trump administration is telling Congress it has an agreement to save China's ZTE: New York Times No recession until late 2020, so keep buying stocks, Credit Suisse says Moody's warns of 'particularly large' wave of junk bond defaults ahead Cryptocurrency stunt to climb Mount Everest reportedly turns deadly Chinese police take down gang of inventive online reputation cleaners Italy's Conte struggles to form team; markets tumble Cramer: Foot Locker's stellar earnings show the 'mall is still not dead' yet Roku shares jump after short-seller reverses call, says he doesn't want to bet against cord-cutting Wyoming's plan to diversify its economy from fossil fuels … to blockchain Facebook, Google face complaints worth $8 billion over alleged breach of new EU data law Apple's self-driving partnership is the next phase of 'Apple as a service,' Gene Munster says Consumers expect smaller gains in income than a year ago, May sentiment survey finds Herbalife shares plunge after Carl Icahn said he is lowering his stake in the company South Africa's ailing state-owned firms set to invest billions in dramatic reform program Why you're suddenly getting lots of emails from sites you haven't visited in years 'Fortnite': This is how a free video game might make $3.5 billion White House official: Trump could take a harder line on trade with China now that the Kim Jong Un summit is off Stocks making the biggest moves premarket: FL, HIBB, BKE, GPS, DECK, ADSK, ROST, AZN & more Apple blocks Steam's plan to extend its video games to iPhones Foot Locker shares are jumping 15% after a blowout earnings report PayPal upgraded by Stifel because of its addition of new financial services Samsonite slides for a 2nd day after a short-seller attack, but some analysts are unfazed US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to visit China for trade talks in early June A specialty retailer up 118% in one year could have more room to run after earnings Gold is back: The rise in geopolitical tensions boosts precious metal prices The 'Meghan Markle Effect' is boosting gold jewelry sales US media websites down in Europe after a huge data law shakeup Tencent's WeChat drops 'sugar daddy' dating website Autodesk forecasts second-quarter profit below estimates Turkey's leadership scrambles to regain investor confidence in its monetary policy Italy's Enel accuses Spain's Iberdrola of 'aggressive' tactics in Brazilian power struggle Sanctioned tycoon Deripaska resigns as director of his firm Rusal The battle for the biggest prize in soccer, worth $370 million, is taking place this weekend One of the biggest names in advertising thinks you're going to get paid for sharing your data European markets seen higher after Trump scraps US-North Korea summit US jury awards Apple $539 million in Samsung patent retrial How Europe’s new privacy law called GDPR is creating big business opportunities Trump can take some lessons from the failed summit with North Korea, says a former US ambassador A Trump-Kim meeting could still take place down the road China's box office recently beat the US, and is now on the cusp of a 'new growth cycle' Steve Cohen's Point72 is bullish on Asia — and they like these sectors The crackdown on cryptocurrencies is a good thing, say traders Read the full statement from South Korean President Moon Jae In here Asian stocks poised to slide after Trump cancels North Korea summit Cramer Remix: Don’t let this buying opportunity pass again Indigo Agriculture CEO wants to change economics for farmers with a 'revolution in agriculture' The phone company founded by Android creator Andy Rubin is reportedly for sale US bill would force tech companies to disclose foreign software probes Nutanix falls on a wider-than-expected quarterly loss Google employees are spending heavily to elect Democrats in California and to flip the House How to send your Twitter feed back 10 years and see early, silly tweets Facebook shows once again that it does not understand or value journalism Whip yourself into shape by using this Apple Watch feature to compete against friends and family Trump and Europe are entering a 'game of chicken' over Iran nuclear deal sanctions New Boeing 777 will have folding wings Facebook and Twitter announce stricter political ad guidelines ahead of midterms Here is the federal labor complaint the United Auto Workers just filed against Tesla Elon Musk has a history of wild ideas — some of them have worked out Netflix passes Disney and is now biggest pure media company in the world by market value Zuckerberg says Facebook has 'always shared' the values of Europe's new data law Best Buy’s big sell-off could soon be a buying opportunity, says market watcher Iran's Supreme Leader just made 5 tough demands for Europe to save the nuclear deal Ray Dalio said last year gold was good protection because of Trump and North Korea 'playing chicken' Classic dividend stocks are tanking, but think before you make the mistake of selling Watch Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg speak at Viva Tech 2018 as concerns over data protection heighten North Korea summit cancellation part of 'downside risks' for the economy, Fed's Bostic says Spain economy minister says he's not concerned about Italian bond market contagion Art Cashin: Stock drop reflects mistaken assumption Trump would do everything to make North Korea summit work Uber ‘moving in the right direction’ and will hopefully keep London license, exec says Labour laws in 104 countries reserve some jobs for men only Dear oil helps some emerging economies and harms others Tailor shops are a thriving pocket of enterprise in Pyongyang Why it makes sense to invest in Treasury bonds Why even bears about the government-bond market can find merit in Treasuries Who will be the main loser from Europe’s new data-privacy law? What is an audit for? As Tesla’s share price falls, it becomes an inviting takeover target How kidnapping insurance keeps a lid on ransom inflation CEO says Crowdstrike's security platform could someday attract Amazon, Google Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins speaks at VivaTech 2018 amid heightened cybersecurity concerns South Korean stocks ETF tumbles after Trump cancels meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong Un Cramer: Trump's investigation into auto imports in the name of national security is a 'stretch' Existing home sales drop 2.5% in April Gold jumps after Trump cancels North Korea summit as global investors seek safety Uber's self-driving SUV saw pedestrian in fatal accident but didn't brake, officials say Trump cancels Singapore nuclear summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un JP Morgan: Charts show new market highs are coming soon, led by bank stocks GE doesn't plan to cut dividend again, sources say Best Buy shares tumble 6% after CFO's disappointing outlook Facebook must comply with European privacy laws in 'real life,' EU's digital policy chief say Fed's Kaplan sees another four rate hikes or so before central bank finishes its job Morgan Stanley: Buy Apple shares on the ‘emerging power’ of its services


Special Report: Philip Morris device knows a lot about your smoking habit

In seeking regulatory approval for a new smoking device called iQOS, Philip Morris International is claiming the electronic gadget is less likely to cause disease than traditional cigarettes. But the iQOS holds another, less obvious advantage over regular smokes: the ability to harvest personal data about users’ smoking habits.

The tobacco giant is already building a database of iQOS customers who register with the company. And it has developed a software application that could take things a step further.

The initiative, if allowed by regulators, could extract information about a user’s smoking routine from the device and use it for marketing purposes, said a former project manager at the company who tested the software in Japan. That data would include the number of puffs and average consumption per day, said Shiro Masaoka, who worked at Philip Morris in Japan from 2012 to 2016.

Asked about Masaoka’s comments, Philip Morris said the software in the device that controls temperature and duration of use “is not used for marketing purposes whatsoever.”

A Canadian firm that specializes in reverse-engineering tech devices says the iQOS is equipped with two microcontroller chips, including one that, with modifications to the device, could support the storing of usage information that could then be transmitted back to Philip Morris. From the product description of the chips used, the data could include details like the number of puffs by a user and how many times a person smoked the device in a given day, according to Ottawa-based TechInsights Inc, which examined the iQOS’ innards for Reuters.

The firm’s inspection included the hardware and components; it did not test the functionality of the device’s software. Reuters is publishing TechInsights’ teardown report as part of a searchable repository, The Philip Morris Files, which includes internal company documents.

Presented with the TechInsights findings, Philip Morris said in a statement: “No data information from the device is linked to a specific consumer, only the device.”

A patent filed by a Philip Morris subsidiary in 2009 suggests how communication with the smoker would work. It describes an iQOS-like device as having “an interface for establishing a communications link for uploading data to and downloading data from an Internet-enabled host.”

Gregory Connolly, a professor at Northeastern University in Boston who has studied iQOS technology and patents, said Philip Morris’ ability to gather user data could give the device remarkable power.

“What they’re going to have is a mega database of how Americans smoke,” he said. “Then they’ll be able to reprogram the current puffing delivery pattern of the iQOS to one that may be more reinforcing and with a higher addiction potential.”

Told about those comments, Philip Morris referred to remarks in January by its vice president for scientific and public communications, Moira Gilchrist.

“I can reassure that there’s no technology in there that’s intended to manipulate in any way what is delivered from iQOS,” Gilchrist told a panel of scientific advisers for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The only time the company extracts data from the device, Philip Morris says, is when trying to figure out why there’s been a malfunction.

Gilchrist told the FDA panel that iQOS delivers roughly the same level of nicotine as a standard cigarette. Philip Morris says the device’s nicotine delivery cannot be altered.

Gilchrist did say, though, that the company is able to “capture data,” such as the number of puffs taken on an iQOS, but doesn’t do so unless it’s necessary to examine a device that has a technical problem. The number of puffs by a user and smoking time per tobacco insert are automatically regulated by the device, she said.

The company says that by heating tobacco instead of burning it, the iQOS significantly reduces a user’s exposure to the levels of carcinogens and other toxic substances found in a regular cigarette. As a result, the company claims, the device “is likely to reduce the risk of smoking related diseases.”

The iQOS system uses cigarette-like inserts containing tobacco, branded in some markets as HeatSticks. They slide into a pen-size holder, equipped with a heating component called a “blade.” The device comes with a USB cord, and has Bluetooth wireless communication availability in some markets.

Philip Morris says iQOS is for smokers who would otherwise not quit. It is applying to the FDA for permission to market the device in America as being less harmful than cigarettes.

The panel of advisers at the FDA hearing in January voted its approval of a finding that scientific studies show switching completely from cigarettes to iQOS significantly reduces a smoker’s exposure to harmful chemicals. But it also found that Philip Morris had not demonstrated that the reduction is “reasonably likely” to result in a “measurable and substantial” reduction in disease and/or death.

A Reuters investigation published in December identified shortcomings in the training and professionalism of some of the lead investigators in the clinical trials that underpin the tobacco giant’s application to the FDA. Former Philip Morris employees and contractors described irregularities in those studies. Reuters did not find any evidence that the outcome of the experiments was manipulated or falsified.

Philip Morris said in a statement to Reuters that “all studies were conducted by suitably qualified and trained Principal Investigators,” researchers who oversee a clinical trial.

In a letter in February, which mentioned Reuters’ findings, a group of 10 U.S. senators asked FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb to “avoid rushing” the approval of products such as iQOS “without requiring strong evidence that any such product will reduce the risk of disease, result in a large number of smokers quitting, and not increase youth tobacco use.”

The company has filed a series of patents related to electronic smoking devices. One such patent published in 2016 describes a mouthpiece with a sensor to measure the amount of nicotine byproduct in a user’s saliva and allows for remote adjustments to the device. Such changes would allow for the monitoring and controlling of the “maximum threshold” for the amount of nicotine that a user receives, according to the patent.

In a statement in December, Philip Morris said that patent “is not used in any of our products and we have no plans for it in the foreseeable future.”

At the January meeting of the FDA advisory panel, Gilchrist was quizzed on how the company is using Bluetooth, which provides for greater connectivity with iQOS users. She replied that it is used to remind consumers, for instance, when they have to clean their device or re-order HeatSticks so they didn’t run out and have to revert to regular cigarettes.

“You know, for example, a message may come up: ‘Hey, you haven’t used your iQOS device today,'” Gilchrist said. “Have you stopped smoking, or is it because you’ve gone back to combustible cigarettes?”

In Japan, which has more permissive tobacco marketing laws than many countries, Philip Morris is collecting user information through registrations for the device.

At a flagship boutique in Tokyo’s fashionable Harajuku district, where the word iQOS stretches down the side of a glass-encased building, customers were offered a discount on buying the device in exchange for signing up on the company’s iQOS website.

The company offered incentives on the website for people to register, including the iQOS discount. In doing so, potential customers were asked to enter a list of smoking preferences as well as the user ID for their Instagram social media account.

Philip Morris said in a statement that it does so “to ensure that these consumers can follow the iQOS Instagram account, which is closed and limited to age-verified consumers registered in the Philip Morris Japan iQOS consumer database.”

An internal Philip Morris handbook dated 2016 discussed approaches to social media. It gave examples of possible Facebook posts aimed at customers. “Did you know?” one suggested post reads. “Our newest version of iQOS can be connected to an app that’ll help you adjust to the product much quicker. Take it for a spin and learn more.”

Source: Tech CNBC
Special Report: Philip Morris device knows a lot about your smoking habit

Comments are closed.