IQOS point-of-sale marketing: a comparison between Arab and Jewish neighborhoods in Israel

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Research square




IQOS; heated tobacco products; marketing; point-of-sale


BACKGROUND: Philip Morris International's (PMI) IQOS, with its heatsticks (HEETS), is the heated tobacco product with the largest global market share. IQOS and/or electronic cigarettes use rate is higher among Arabs vs. Jews in Israel. This paper aims to compare IQOS point-of-sale (POS) marketing strategies, and regulatory compliance in Arab vs. Jewish neighborhoods in Israel. METHODS: We integrated data from two separate studies including a cross-sectional survey with IQOS retailers (December 2020-April 2021) and audits of POS that sold IQOS/HEETS (April 2021-July 2021) in 5 large cities in Israel, after marketing restrictions including a POS display ban and plain packaging became effective in Israel (January 2020). The survey included 69 POS (21 Arab, 48 Jewish neighborhoods) and the audits included 129 POS (48 Arab, 81 Jewish neighborhoods). Comparisons of IQOS marketing strategies between POS in Arab and Jewish neighborhoods were conducted using Chi-Square test, Fisher's exact test or Mann-Whitney test, as appropriate. Thematic analysis was used to analyze open-ended questions. RESULTS: Most marketing strategies, such as promotions to customers, were uniform across POS in Arab and Jewish neighborhoods. The most noteworthy differences were that a higher proportion of retailers from Arab neighborhoods were invited to IQOS parties (47.6% vs. 21.7%, p<0.05) and reported personal communication with a PMI representative (80.0% vs. 51.2%, p<0.05). Additionally, PMI representatives assisted POS in both Arab and Jewish neighborhoods in implementing the display ban by providing free compliant cabinets and product placement instructions, and directly interacted with customers. POS in Arab neighborhoods were more compliant with the display ban (25.5% vs. 8.8%, p<0.05), but less compliant with plain packaging (62.5% vs. 79.3%, p<0.05). CONCLUSIONS: There were not many notable differences in IQOS marketing across POS in Arab vs. Jewish neighborhoods, but PMI utilized marketing elements of cultural significance, especially for POS in Arab neighborhoods, such as more personal communication and invitation to social events. Continuous surveillance of tobacco POS marketing and legislation compliance is needed, with a special focus on demographic/location-based differences.


Prevention and Community Health