What are ‘heat not burning’ products and are they any safer than traditional cigarettes?

Will new tobacco products disrupt the smoking market? Image: xaya odeesho on unsplash

Philip Morris International, one of the world’s largest tobacco companies, recently lodged an application to allow the sale of its “heat not burning” products in Australia.

This attempt to disrupt Australia’s tobacco market and make heated tobacco products legal is part of the company’s latest mission to “change society and deliver a better, smoke-free future”.

The company argues these products are a safer way to satisfy a nicotine craving than traditional cigarettes. It calls the technology IQOS, which stands for “I quit original smoking”.

But what are these “heat not burning” products, and are they actually better for us than standard cigarettes?

heat not burning products are probably better than smoking cigarettes

If we were to rank the products in terms of cancer risk from highest to lowest with the evidence we currently have, it would be normal cigarettes, heat not burning products, then e-cigarettes.

Notably, the modelling study compared someone using heat not burning products to a current smoker. If we were to examine the effects of using heat not burning products compared to not smoking at all, it’s almost certain we’d see an increased health risk when using these products.

For someone who is using heat not burning products as an alternative to smoking cigarettes, there may be some merit. Otherwise, it’s best avoided.

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