Background: Several smoke-free tobacco and/or nicotine-containing products (TNP) have emerged in recent years to support tobacco harm reduction strategies and reduce individual health risks and population harm relative to continued cigarette smoking. This paper describes the nationwide prevalence and patterns of TNP use in Japan following the commercialization of one such smoke-free TNP, the heated tobacco product IQOS® (Philip Morris International).
Methods: We analyzed the first annual data (2016–2017) of two repeated cross-sectional surveys conducted in a representative sample of the Japanese general adult (≥20 years of age) population (N = 4,878) and a sample of adult IQOS users (N = 2,000). We assessed the prevalence of current TNP use according to type of product (cigarettes, IQOS, e-cigarettes, and other TNPs) in the general population and patterns of TNP use in the IQOS user sample.
Results: The prevalence of current use across all TNP in the sampled general population was 18.5% (95% confidence interval 17.2–19.5%), with 17.5% (16.4–18.6%) for cigarette smoking and 1.8% (1.4–2.2%) for IQOS use. Regarding the distribution of patterns of use in the IQOS user survey, the majority (63.4% [61.2–65.6%]) were exclusive users of IQOS, followed by 20.6% (18.7–22.5%) of individuals who reported dual use of IQOS and cigarettes.
Conclusions: In Japan, cigarette smoking remains the most prevalent way of consuming TNP; however, IQOS is being adopted by a growing number of adult Japanese smokers. These findings serve as baseline data for monitoring trends over time in the use and adoption of potential smoke-free TNP in Japan.