The introduction of heated tobacco products (HTP), seen as a harm reduction approach, reduced cigarette sales in Japan by 30% within three to four years.
“Since 2014, three heated tobacco products have been officially launched nationwide in Japan and they have penetrated 25%. [of total smoking population], and this product has been successful in reducing smoking in Japan so far by 30% in three to four years, ”said Dr Kumamaru Hiroya, a preventive physician specializing in smoking cessation.
Dr Hiroya, vice director of AOI Universal Hospital Kawasaki, said the drop in consumption had not been seen after years of trying nicotine replacement therapy (NTP).
He said that unlike NTPs such as nicotine patches, which have been shown to be ineffective in reducing smoking rates in Japan, the commercialization of HTP as IQOS by Philip Morris International (PMI) in 2014 resulted in a significant drop in smoking rates. cigarette sales.
HTPs are non-combustible alternatives to cigarettes that closely mimic the rituals of smoking without the combustion process. These electronic devices heat, instead of burning, tobacco units specially designed to release tobacco vapor containing nicotine. The results of scientific studies show that the tar and carcinogens in tobacco smoke cause death and illnesses associated with smoking, not nicotine.
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration authorized IQOS, PMI’s tobacco heating system, to be marketed as a modified risk tobacco product (MRTP) on July 7, 2020.
The FDA has cleared IQOS for sale in the United States with information that the IQOS system heats tobacco but does not burn it, and scientific studies have shown that the complete switch from conventional cigarettes to the IQOS system significantly reduces the exposure of the body to harmful or potentially harmful substances. chemical.
HTP users make up about 30 percent of Japanese smokers and 25 percent of female smokers, while dual use of cigarettes and HTP remains low at 6.9 percent among male smokers and 4.8 percent among male smokers. female smokers, Dr. Hiroya noted.
Meanwhile, initiation into the use of HTP among 60,000 Japanese junior high school students was very low, at just 0.1%, contradicting fears of use among young people, according to a study from Tottori University. Medical School funded by the Department of Health and Welfare.
Mark Dougan, director of Transformational Health at business consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, said the case of Japan, being the world’s largest HTP market, is worth investigating due to the significant reduction in cigarette sales. in the country.
He said they were focusing on the Japanese market as new nicotine tobacco products (NNTPs) have been commercially available in Japan since 2014. It is by far the largest market in the world.
Dougan noted that HTPs are based on the principle of eliminating combustion by heating tobacco to around 350 degrees centigrade or less instead of burning.
“While these products are clearly not without risk, they have the potential to serve as a complementary strategy to existing tobacco-related interventions” for smokers who are otherwise unable or reluctant to quit, said Dougan.
Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, with more than 7 million people dying each year from smoking-related diseases. Dougan said the number of tobacco users globally has declined only slightly, from around 1.4 billion in 2000 to 1.34 billion in 2018.
“There is a large group of smokers in developed and developing countries who cannot or will not quit using current approaches, which is often ineffective enough in helping people quit,” said Dougan.
Using NNTP, according to Dougan, is often seen as an appropriate intervention to help them quit smoking. “The use of NNTPs is based on the principle of harm reduction, especially the harm reduction of tobacco,” he said.