The public’s awareness and use of heated tobacco products is low but on the rise in the United States, according to a study by a group of tobacco researchers at Georgia State University School of Public Health.
The makers of Heated Tobacco Products (HTP), also referred to as “heat-not-burn” devices, claim that they deliver a safer experience by heating tobacco to a temperature that creates a nicotine-bearing aerosol rather than smoke. Prior studies have been mixed on whether HTP are a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes.
HTP have sold in the U.S. under brand names such as Premier, Eclipse and Accord since the 1980s but struggled to attract users. However, Philip Morris International has seen some success overseas with sales of a product called IQOS. Philip Morris has petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to allow sales of IQOS in the U.S. with marketing that would present it as a less harmful alternative to cigarettes. The request has prompted researchers to take a closer look at current use patterns for HTP.
Researchers found that men and younger adults were more aware of such products and that they may be used at disproportionately high rates by racial and ethnic minorities. Overall, the percentage of respondents who had ever used HTP rose from 1.4 percent in 2016 to 2.2 percent in 2017. Awareness of the products among adults rose from 9.3 percent to 12.4 percent over the same period.
Results of the study are published in the article titled “Awareness and use of heated tobacco products among US adults, 2016–2017” in the journal Tobacco Control.
The study analyzed the responses of over 12,000 U.S. adults who participated in surveys in 2016 and 2017 as part of a national, online panel conducted by marketing research company GfK.
The authors recommend additional research to better understand the relationship between HTP use and use of other types of tobacco and nicotine-delivery products, and the potential unintended consequences of rising awareness and use of HTP.
The study’s authors are research consultant Ms. Amy Nyman, Dr. Scott Weaver, Dr. Lucy Popova, Dr. Terry Pechacek, Dr. Jidong Huang, Dr. David Ashley, and Dr. Michael Eriksen, all of the School of Public Health at Georgia State.
Research reported in this publication was supported by grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Food and Drug Administration, Center for Tobacco Products. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH or the Food and Drug Administration.