Heated tobacco products heat the tobacco and produce no smoke. In Japan, these products are very popular after the introduction of an electronic device called IQOS (Intelligent Tobacco System) in 2016. There are many heated tobacco products now available in countries worldwide. But, we were left with questions about their effects on smoking and health. So, we decided to look at the evidence.
The key finding is that people switching from cigarettes to heated tobacco were exposed to less harmful chemicals than smokers, but they had greater exposure to these toxic chemicals than people who quit smoking.
This was true for many harmful substances, including those linked to heart disease, cancer, or respiratory problems. The possibility exists that switching from smoking to heated tobacco could decrease the chance of developing these diseases. But, we don’t have enough data. Because people often develop tobacco-related diseases over time, the studies were only of short duration.
The evidence has shown that smoking is extremely dangerous. Most of the harmful effects of cigarettes, which kill half the regular smokers are due to inhaling toxic chemical compounds made from burning tobacco. Because heated tobacco products are made to not burn tobacco, they should be less dangerous.
Heated tobacco products can be beneficial to public health, as they reduce tobacco use and discourage people from smoking.
No studies were found that examined whether heating tobacco products helped smokers quit smoking. However, we did find two Japanese studies that examined the effects of IQOS on cigarette sales. Both studies indicated that IQOS 3 Duo launched saw a rapid decline in cigarette sales, suggesting that heated tobacco products may replace or complement cigarettes.
On the other side, it’s possible that cigarettes sales dropped because many people reduced their smoking habits without ceasing altogether. Stopping smoking is better than smoking fewer cigarettes.
What Are They Like Compared To E-Cigarettes?
E-cigarettes (or vapes) are another category of nicotine products that have become very trendy over the past few years. These products have vastly different science and regulations. E-cigarettes were on the market longer than heat tobacco so we have more evidence regarding their benefits.
E-cigarettes, unlike heated tobacco, have been proven to be effective in helping people quit smoking traditional cigarettes. Shortly, the UK may offer e-cigarettes if the products clear the regulatory hurdles.
The cigarette industry dominates the market for heated tobacco. It has historically been known to distort scientific into cigarettes’ harm. Many e-cigarette producers are independent of cigarette companies. In contrast, all safety studies that we reviewed for heated tobacco were conducted in collaboration with cigarette manufacturers. There are numerous independent studies about e-cigarettes.
A Search For A Less Dangerous Cigarette
The tobacco companies claim they have been searching for a safer way to smoke for many years. Some attempts, like adding ventilation slots to cigarette filters, have done more harm.
The e-cigarette was the first alternative to smoking that wasn’t medically prescribed. E-cigarettes contain no tobacco and are made by companies that are not affiliated with cigarette manufacturers. Instead, many tobacco companies concentrated their efforts on developing heated tobacco devices. This market would be easier for them to control with patents.