Does iQOS harvest personal data from users and manipulate their tobacco habits?: A review of current evidence
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Maria Sklodowska-Curie Institute-Oncology Centre, Warsaw, Poland
Health Promotion Foundation, Warsaw, Poland
Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research, Milan, Italy
Publication date: 2019-10-12
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2019;17(Suppl 1):A73
To review available reports on harvesting personal data about tobacco habits from iQOS users and raise awareness of tobacco users and tobacco control community on this risk.

The analysis is mainly based on data taken from patent documentation, reports on technological inspection of iQOS hardware, marketing reports, including iQOS strategy for point-of-sale, internal industry documents and consumer's guidelines. In addition, it includes media reports, desk research made by public health specialists, and industry statements and claims in the press and in media interviews.

The recent reports warn the public on new risk in using novel tobacco products such as iQOS. Patent documentation and technological inspection reports prove that the iQOS is equipped with two microcontroller chips enable to store and transmit usage information to producer. Findings of public health specialists and media reports provide evidence that Phillip Morris International (PMI - iQOS producer) already builds the mega database of iQOS customers for these needs. Collected data include the number of puffs and average iQOS use per day that seems to be crucial information for manipulating user's addiction potential and his tobacco habits.

The use of iQOS may create a potential risk of personal data harvesting. Such data could be stored on PMI database and used both for tobacco marketing and reinforcing a potential tobacco addiction. There is an urgent need to do in-depth examination on iQOS hardware capabilities, its software, PMI storage database and iQOS marketing and promotion strategy (both in points of sale and in Internet, including cloud and deep data). Personal data protection of tobacco consumers should be incorporated into human and civil rights agenda and considered for law regulation at least in those countries where such legislative measures are not enough strong or not enforced at all.

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