'Heat-Not-Burn Cigarettes' Aiming for U.S. Market

From Drugs.com - October 11, 2017

'Heat-Not-Burn Cigarettes' Aiming for U.S. Market

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 11, 2017 -- A smoking mechanism that mixes the electronics behind e-cigarettes with the tobacco-burning properties of traditional cigarettes is sparking public health worries as it takes direct aim at the American market.

Unlike e-cigarettes, the so called "heat-not-burn" device works by warming up tobacco to about 500 degrees Fahrenheit, producing an inhalable aerosol.

By contrast, e-cigarettes function by heating a nicotine-infused liquid, minus the dangerous smoke that is emitted by tobacco-burning traditional cigarettes.

The heat-not-burn innovation has not been approved for sale in the United States, but an application for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval was filed late last year.

Research on the potential health impact of such devices has barely begun.

A new study, though, cautions that in countries where the product is already on the market, like Japan, it has achieved rapid popularity as a smoke-free option for those e-smokers who yearn for the old taste and back-of-throat burning sensation (or "hit") of traditional cigarettes.

"We do not know enough about the health implications of heat-not-burn tobacco products, and that lack of knowledge is extremely dangerous for public health," said Theodore Caputi, the study's lead author. He is a graduate student in public health at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

"We know from experience that the tobacco industry and their allies will not wait for all the facts to begin making health claims," he added.

"We need to first ensure, before heat-not-burn reaches the market, that consumers are aware we do not have all the facts on heat-not-burn products, and then we should begin filling in those knowledge gaps," Caputi said.

He said that "considering the absolutely massive public health implications of tobacco products, generally -- that is, tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death -- picking up a heat-not-burn device before we have all the facts is not a decision consumers should take lightly."

Caputi and his colleagues published their study online Oct. 11 in the journal PLOS One.

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