A recent analysis examines the advantages and hazards of heated tobacco.

Products for heating tobacco are made to do so without burning or emitting smoke. Following the 2016 debut of an electronic gadget called IQOS, the demand for these items skyrocketed in Japan. Although heated tobacco products are now sold in many nations, there are still uncertainties regarding their impact on health and cigarette smoking, therefore we looked at the data.

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Eleven research including more than 2,600 participants are included in our latest evaluation. The main conclusion is that those who shifted from smoking cigarettes to heated tobacco were exposed to less dangerous chemicals than those who continued to smoke, but they were exposed to more of these poisons than those who gave up tobacco use completely.

This reduced exposure was observed for several toxic chemicals associated with heart disease, cancer, and respiratory issues. This suggests that moving from cigarettes to heated tobacco may lower the risk of contracting these illnesses, but further research is needed to make this determination. The trials were all brief, and people usually require some time to acquire ailments linked to tobacco use.

Nevertheless, the data to far supports the particular dangers associated with smoking. We know that breathing the hazardous compounds produced by burning tobacco is the primary cause of the adverse consequences of cigarettes, which kill half of all habitual smokers. We would anticipate that the danger would be reduced for heated tobacco products because they are intended to prevent burning tobacco.

If heated tobacco products lower risk and assist users in quitting regular cigarettes without drawing in users who would not otherwise use tobacco products, then public health might gain.

We were unable to locate any research examining the possibility of helping smokers quit by providing them with hot tobacco products. However, we discovered two Japanese papers examining the impact of IQOS on cigarette sales. Both discovered that the introduction of IQOS hastened the decline in cigarette sales, indicating that heated tobacco products may take the place of cigarettes rather than enhance them.

However, it’s also plausible that fewer individuals stopped smoking since most people reduced their usage but didn’t completely give up. Giving up smoking completely yields greater health benefits than cutting back on smokes.

A comparison with electronic cigarettes

Another category of nicotine products that has seen significant growth in popularity recently is e-cigarettes, sometimes known as vapes. Products that include heated tobacco leaf are heated, whereas e-cigarettes heat a liquid that usually contains nicotine. The science and regulations governing these items varies greatly. Since e-cigarettes have been around longer than heated tobacco, the advantages and disadvantages of using them have been well documented.

E-cigarettes, as opposed to heated tobacco, have been demonstrated to assist users in quitting traditional cigarettes. If e-cigarettes clear the required regulatory barriers, they may even be made available to smokers in the UK in the not-too-distant future.

However, some nations, like Japan, have put in place regulations that effectively forbid the selling of nicotine-containing e-cigarettes, even while heated tobacco products are still easily accessible. Since heated tobacco is the only accessible possibly lower-risk alternative to cigarettes, this may help to explain why it has become so popular in Japan. In nations like the US and the UK, where the e-cigarette industry was well-established when IQOS began, heated tobacco usage is still uncommon.

Products from the cigarette business, which has a history of manipulating science to downplay the dangers of cigarettes, dominate the heated tobacco market. On the other hand, a large number of e-cigarette producers are independent of tobacco businesses. While e-cigarettes have been the subject of several independent investigations, all the safety studies regarding heated tobacco in our analysis were carried out by cigarette makers.

The hunt for cigarettes that aren’t as dangerous

According to tobacco firms, they have been looking for a less dangerous cigarette for decades. Certain initiatives, like cigarette filters with air holes added, have backfired.

The e-cigarette emerged as the first non-pharmaceutical nicotine substitute that gained widespread acceptance among smokers worldwide. However, e-cigarettes are free of tobacco, and many of their producers are independent of cigarette businesses. Instead, a large number of tobacco businesses concentrated on creating heated tobacco devices, a market that they could control more tightly thanks to patents.

Sales of electronic heated tobacco devices shot up in South Korea and Japan in 2014 when Philip Morris International brought IQOS to test markets. This was followed by the launch of similar devices by other tobacco businesses. Currently, some of the most well-known include Ploom by Japan Tobacco International and Glo by British American Tobacco.

The majority of studies on the safety of heated tobacco are from Philip Morris International, which filed an application to market IQOS in the US as a “reduced exposure” and “reduced risk” tobacco product. The US approved the marketing of IQOS as a reduced exposure device in 2019. “Completely switching from conventional cigarettes to the IQOS system significantly reduces your body’s exposure to harmful or potentially harmful chemicals,” the review’s findings stated.

“The evidence is not sufficient to demonstrate substantiation of either of the claims about the reduced risk of tobacco-related disease or harm,” according to the rejection letter for the reduced risk application. To be certain about the health effects of heated tobacco use, additional research is required.