The World Health Organisation predict more than 1 billion tobacco-related deaths will occur this century.

Now a tobacco giant has launched a smokeless cigarette that contains 90 per cent less toxins than ordinary ones. Philip Morris International say the device, which delivers the same nicotine hit, could allow for traditional cigarettes to be phased out.

The IQOS product, which costs £45, is already on sale in over a dozen markets, including Japan, Switzerland and Italy. Different from e-cigarettes, the electronic device is used with mini tobacco sticks as opposed to a nicotine-laced liquid - which cost £8 for 20. These are then placed into the device before being heated, which experts say makes them much less harmful because they aren't burning the tobacco.

But experts argue that the innovative device will never be safer than e-cigarettes and doesn't appear to be a safe option. Philip Morris International say the IQOS device, which delivers the same nicotine hit, could allow for traditional cigarettes to be phased out

In an interview with the BBC, the company's chief executive, Andre Calantzopoulos said: 'I believe there will come a moment in time where I would say we have sufficient adoption of these alternative products...to start envisaging, together with governments, a phase-out period for cigarettes. 'I hope this time will come soon.'

Philip Morris, who produce Marlboro cigarettes everywhere except the US, gets the vast majority of its sales and profits from traditional cigarettes. But even though the tobacco market is shrinking as more people quit and take up e-cigarettes, they say by 2025 there will still be a billion smokers worldwide. However, rival cigarette firms are close behind, testing their similar devices in scientific trials.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH said: 'Philip Morris states that this is potentially a reduced risk product. 'If smokers switch to electronic cigarettes or other products that can be shown to cut the risks to their health, this could lead to a big improvement in public health. It heats tobacco enough to produce a vapour without burning it, which experts believe makes it much less harmful

'But we need independent evidence to support any claims made by the tobacco industry.

'Philip Morris claims to be moving towards a post smoking future but, like other tobacco companies, it is still actively promoting smoking around the world, using methods that would be illegal in the UK. 'From past experience nothing the tobacco companies say should be accepted at face value. 'Fully independent research and assessment will be crucial if IQOS and related products are to be accepted as useful in fighting the smoking epidemic.'

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention estimates about 42.1 million Americans smoke cigarettes, a habit which remains the number one cause of preventable disease and death in the US.

While it is estimated that one in five adults in the UK currently smoke, equating to around 9.4 million people. But smoking is believed to kill upwards of six million people a year and has been linked to 17 types of cancer. Globally, the habit killed 100 million people in the 20th century, many more than all deaths in World Wars I and II combined.