Japan is the world’s ninth largest cigarette market, and sadly still has very high smoking rates, yet the introduction of HTPs (which are sometimes also called HnBs) has had a remarkable effect in decreasing local smoking rates.
Canadian and American researchers, amongst whom renowned harm reduction advocate Prof. David Sweanor, have looked for a possible relationship between cigarettes and HTPs sales in Japan, between 2011 and 2019. HTPs were introduced in Japan in late 2015, and using data from the Tobacco Institute of Japan and Philip Morris International (PMI), the researchers found an accelerated five-fold decline in cigarette only sales in Japan since 2016, corresponding to an increase in sales of HTPs.
Titled, “What Is Accounting for the Rapid Decline in Cigarette Sales in Japan?“, the study was published on May 20th, in the peer-reviewed open access scientific journal, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
Sweanor explained that despite the fact that Japanese regulations precluded alternatives to combustible cigarettes, Japan has proven to be a success story in tobacco harm reduction.
“We have seen the most rapid decline in cigarette sales ever witnessed in a major market. A third of the cigarette market was gone in a remarkably short period of time, and this was accomplished with a non-coercive measure. People who smoke cigarettes were simply provided with a viable alternative.”
The Japanese public’s harm perceptions of HTP’s vs Cigarettes
Another recent study aimed to determine smokers’ perceptions of the health risks from using HTPs, as compared to smoking combustible cigarettes. The study titled, “Perceptions of Harmfulness of Heated Tobacco Products Compared to Combustible Cigarettes among Adult Smokers in Japan: Findings from the 2018 ITC Japan Survey,” gathered data from 2614 adult exclusive cigarette smokers and 986 dual users. The participants were asked to report their perceptions of harmfulness of HTPs compared to cigarettes, as well as their exposure to HTP advertising in the last six months.
The compiled data indicated that among all smokers, 47.5% perceived HTPs as less harmful than cigarettes, 24.6% perceived HTPs to be equally harmful, 1.8% perceive HTPs as more harmful, and 26.1% did not know.
Dual users were more likely than exclusive smokers to believe that HTPs are less harmful (62.1% versus 43.8%, p < 0.0001) and they were less likely to report that they did not know (14.3% versus 29.4%, p < 0.0001).
The researchers concluded that HTP users were significantly more likely than non users to believe that the products were safer than regular cigarettes, with this belief being more prominent among frequent users. Similarly smokers who had been exposed to advertising, were more likely to perceive HTPs as less harmful than cigarettes.
Read Further: Yahoo