News | Smoke-free products | Sep 1, 2018

      Scientific evidence on tobacco harm reduction: What does science say about heated tobacco products and what does it mean for policy-making?

      TIME TO READ: 1.5 MIN


      Hong Kong, September 1, 2018 -- The society has seen rising awareness and heated debates on emerging alternatives to cigarettes. Millions of smokers have already switched to these smoking alternatives with others urging their governments to open the door to these products. The potential of tobacco harm reduction and the need to search for less harmful forms of nicotine delivery have increasingly been recognized over the globe. The United Kingdoms’ Public Health England and the Food and Drug Administration of the United States are among the authorities that have adopted the new approach in formulating their tobacco control policies.

      “What I think today is that, to try to make cigarettes more expensive or forbid cigarettes cannot be the only answer to the health issue of smoking,” said Professor David Khayat, former President of The French National Cancer Institute. “Today I think we have to find other ways […] and this is why through science and innovation, finding alternatives to smoking that can be less harmful and cause less damage in our population is so important.”

      “There are over 600,000 smokers in Hong Kong. If those who would continue smoking cigarettes can be allowed and encouraged to switch to less harmful alternatives, a monumental public health benefit can be realized,” said Brett Cooper, General Manager of Philip Morris International Hong Kong & Macao.

      Professor Khayat and Gizelle Baker

      Heated tobacco products are still relatively new to the market and evidence continues to be generated, both by the manufacturers and by independent parties. The data available to date from these independent parties, both academics and government are for the most part verifying the evidence generated by the manufacturer. The conclusion being that although heated tobacco products are not risk-free, they have the potential to be less harmful than cigarettes.

      “The totality of the evidence from our robust science shows that switching to IQOS, our most advanced heated tobacco product, is a better choice for smokers than continuing to smoke cigarettes, however cessation remains the best choice,” said Dr Gizelle Baker, Director of Scientific Engagement of Philip Morris International. “It starts with the elimination of burning, which produces an aerosol that has on average 90 to 95 per cent lower levels of Harmful and Potentially Harmful Constituents (HPHCs) compared to cigarette smoke. Studies and reviews by independent parties such as the UK Committee on Toxicity, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment and the National Institute of Public Health of Japan all are encouragingly comparable to ours.”