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How heated tobacco products influenced the reduction of tobacco consumption. The case of Japan

How heated tobacco products influenced the reduction of tobacco consumption. The

At the heart of alternative heated products is the science that differentiates them from traditional cigarettes.

The decline in sales of traditional cigarettes in Japan in recent years is attributed to the adoption of the heated tobacco system (THS).

The use of heated products (HTPs) in Japan has been accompanied by a significant decline in sales of traditional cigarettes.

In fact, according to the latest industry report from the Tobacco Institute of Japan, cigarette consumption has fallen by 44% within 5 years of the introduction of THS – the heated smoking system – the biggest drop Japan has ever seen.

Alternatives to traditional tobacco have proven to play an important role in reducing the prevalence rate of smoking in a given country. Let's take Sweden as an example – where it has been reported that the use of 'snus' as an alternative has played a key role in reducing the prevalence rate of smoking, especially among men. Also reducing lung cancer and heart attack rates among men in Sweden.

The science behind warming

At the heart of alternative heated products is the science that differentiates them from traditional cigarettes.

Instead of combustion that generates harmful and potentially harmful chemicals, tar and smoke, the heated product system uses precise heating mechanisms that provide the traditional smoking experience but without emitting the toxic byproducts of combustion.

This change is not only aesthetic but a deep reduction of damage.

PMI's medical director, Dr Patrick Picavet says, "Of course, the best option for a smoker is to quit, but unfortunately, this is not the reality.

"The reality is that people continue to do it and therefore, you're going to need an alternative that is less harmful if you want to reduce individual risk as well as population harm."

According to the concept of tobacco harm reduction, reducing tobacco-related harm at the macro-level of the population depends on the adoption of less harmful smoke-free alternatives by adult smokers. Heated tobacco products (HTP) are recognized for their potential to be less harmful compared to continuous smoking, thanks to the absence of smoke and significantly reduced levels of harmful chemicals.

Declining smoking rate in Japan

'The decline in sales of traditional cigarettes in Japan is closely related to the adoption of the heated smoking system, measuring the impact that scientific progress brings in this direction.'

In a study on reduced emissions published in the journal UOEH (Japan University of Occupational and Environmental Health), the country's National Institute of Public Health (NIPH) concluded that, “nicotine concentrations in tobacco fillers and smoke of IQOS were almost the same as those of traditional combustible cigarettes, while the concentration of tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNA) was one fifth and carbon monoxide (CO) was one hundredth of those of traditional combustible cigarettes.

Data from the Japanese government's National Health and Nutrition Survey revealed that the most frequent pattern of use of HTPs (heated tobacco products) in Japan is 'exclusive use'.

An overwhelming majority of HTP users (76% in 2019) reported no use of traditional cigarettes, further highlighting the potential of heated tobacco products to lead to reduced smoking prevalence .

Adult smokers nowadays are already turning to tobacco alternatives as the public is more than aware of the dangers of traditional smoking.

This change in behavior also reflects a wider global trend where consumers are looking for alternatives that offer a better choice than traditional cigarettes, thanks to science-driven innovations.

However, the vape industry in Malaysia still needs clearer regulations and guidelines to address youth vape use.

Regulatory support and scientific rigor

A critical aspect of Japan's regulatory support is the recognition of heated tobacco products (HTP) as a distinct category separate from traditional cigarettes. This separation allowed the creation of tailored regulations that encouraged innovation and reduced barriers to the inclusion of safer alternatives.

At the same time, Japan's regulatory authorities worked hand in hand with the tobacco industry to establish clear product standards, conditions and health warnings. This collaborative approach fostered transparency and consumer confidence, promoting the use of heated products.

Meanwhile, Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare played a leading role in educating the public about the dangers associated with heated tobacco products compared to traditional cigarettes.

They based their messages on scientific research and ran extensive public awareness campaigns. This approach helped dispel misconceptions and encouraged adult smokers to consider switching to heated products as a less harmful alternative [2].

The body of evidence available today from multiple rigorous scientific evaluations and programs shows that switching completely to a heated smoking system, while not without risk, poses less risk than continuing to smoke.

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