Japan’s tobacco harm reduction efforts pay off


Compared to 2016, reported volumes of cigarettes are now down 42%.

A 2021 paper by Frost & Sullivan in collaboration with tobacco company Philip Morris International (PMI) titled “Tobacco Harm Reduction and Novel Nicotine and Tobacco Products: Evidence from the Japanese Market”, found that the entry of HTPs has resulted in a 34% drop in cigarette sales.

“The commercial availability of HTPs in Japan is associated with a significant decline in sales of conventional cigarettes, well ahead of the previous rate of decline. Moreover, even after heated tobacco products became available, sales of all tobacco products (heated tobacco products and conventional cigarettes) continued to fall. Although there is mixed evidence, data from the 2019 National Health Survey indicates that 76% of consumers who use heated tobacco do so exclusively. Only 24% of HTP users retain dual use,” said Mark Dougan, Consulting Director, Healthcare, Frost & Sullivan.

2021 data: Japan’s domestic cigarette sales fell 8.2%

Similarly, Japan Tobacco International’s third quarter 2021 results showed that domestic cigarette sales in Japan fell 8.2% after an 8.9% drop in the previous quarter.

Such a trend was already seen in 2018, with the Financial Times reporting that Philip Morris’ heated tobacco product, IQOS, was spoiling cigarette sales in Japan. According to the report, “conventional cigarette shipments” fell by more than 7% in 2018, following an 11.5% drop in the first quarter of 2017. Meanwhile, shipments of “heated units” fell by 1.2 billion to 6.4 billion during the same period. during the period, while during the quarter, nearly 9% of PMI’s global revenue came from reduced-risk products.

HTPs have played a major role in reducing cigarette sales

Compared to 2016, reported volumes of cigarettes are now down 42%. A 2020 American Cancer Society research study concluded that heated tobacco products “likely reduced cigarette sales in Japan.” Another 2020 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health came to a similar conclusion, stating that “the accelerated decline in cigarette sales alone since 2016 corresponds to the introduction and growth in sales of products of heated tobacco”.

Similar patterns have been seen in the UK and Sweden. The UK has achieved the lowest smoking rates ever thanks to the approval of the use of vaping products for tobacco harm reduction and smoking cessation. While Sweden has achieved smoke-free status by legalizing snus and embracing its use as a safer alternative to cigarettes.

Philip Morris CEO talks about phasing out cigarettes in Japan within a decade


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