Heat not burn products are electronic devices that contain tobacco leaves. When you heat them, they produce a vapour containing nicotine, which you inhale.

They are different from conventional cigarettes in their mechanism, which heats the tobacco to considerably lower temperatures. In heat not burn devices, the tobacco is heated to 350℃, compared to traditional cigarettes that combust and burn at up to 900℃.

Despite this, the temperature in heat not burn products is still high enough for harmful chemicals to be vaporised and inhaled.

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 burn products, then e-cigarettes.

Notably, the modelling study compared someone using heat not burn products to a current smoker. If we were to examine the effects of using heat not burn 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 burn products as an alternative to smoking cigarettes, there may be some merit. Otherwise, it’s best avoided.

Looking to the longer term, the fact heat not burn products release fewer toxins than normal cigarettes may have some benefits over a life history of smoking.

Researchers who used computer modelling to calculate lifetime cancer risk found a person who smokes heat not burn products may be as much as ten times less likely to develop cancer than a person who smokes cigarettes. A person who smokes e-cigarettes would have a 100 times lower risk of developing cancer than a cigarette smoker.

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