A scientific study conducted in Japan by an American Cancer Society team in the United States showed that Philipp Morris International’s (PMI) heating tobacco device, iQOS, which is very popular in Japan and recently approved for marketing in the United States, has reduced cigarette sales in the archipelago since its introduction on the market in 2014.
The iQOS is a tobacco heating device that heats tobacco to a temperature of 300°C (compared to 900°C for a cigarette), thus allowing tobacco vapors to be released without generating combustion. According to the promoters of the tobacco to be heated, iQOS would reduce the health risks associated with cigarettes by more than 90%.
The results of the American Cancer Society’s survey, entitled “Effects of the introduction of iQOS on cigarette sales: evidence of decline and substitution”, show that regional cigarette sales in Japan declined as the product was introduced across the country between 2014 and 2018, demonstrating a clear correlation between the two events.
“The introduction of iQOS has likely reduced cigarette sales in Japan” in all 11 regions of the country, concludes the study led by Michal Stoklosa, a researcher at the American Cancer Society. However, scientists are currently refusing to analyse the overall public health benefit due to a lack of sufficient data, particularly on the potential long-term dangers of tobacco for heating.
Launched nearly five years ago in Japan, tobacco heating devices are very popular in the Japanese archipelago. PMI’s iQOS is the undisputed market leader and alone accounted for nearly 12% of tobacco sales in Japan in 2017. These figures are up sharply compared to the previous year (3.5% of tobacco sales in 2016), according to figures published in the Japanese press. The trend continued in 2018 with a 13.9% drop in cigarette sales.
The American Cancer Society study comes a few weeks after the American Health Regulatory Authority (FDA) approved the marketing of iQOS in the United States, launching a debate in the country on the potential benefits and risks of this new device, presented by its manufacturer as a support for smoking cessation.