Health, VIDEO

Heating Tobacco Sticks – Is the New Trend a Healthier Alternative to Cigarettes?

white smoke free modern hybrid cigarette

Are the new types of tobacco sticks as bad for your health as traditional cigarettes? According to some studies, the new tobacco products also cause some damage to the lung cells. Smoke-free, heated tobacco and biopolymer products that do not burn are already incredibly popular in some markets, but they have not yet found their way into all countries. For this reason, in this post we try to address the most important health aspects of the new trend among smokers. Read on to find out some useful information regarding modern tobacco sticks. Will you give up smoking?

Are Tobacco Sticks Better For Health?

two boxes with tobacco sticks and mouthpiece for smoking heat not burn tobacco products

In a similar way to how e-cigarettes have been promoted as a safer alternative to traditional smoking, public health experts believe heated tobacco sticks could be the next big step for the tobacco industry. However, you may want to reconsider before trying the trend as a variant. The so-called HNB (Heat-Not-Burn) stick may not be as harmless to health as its manufacturer claims. The company praised the marketing of its new product as a revolutionary technology that heats tobacco without burning it. So you can enjoy the true taste of tobacco without smoke, without ash and without odor.

Experiment with aerosol of cigarette smoke from smokeless tobacco sticks carried out by scientists

But is it really like that? A research group from the Universities of Bern, Lausanne and Lausanne / Geneva – all in Switzerland – looked at the matter. Their findings, published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association / Internal Medicine on May 22, 2017, contradict the advertising. The researchers used standardized, internationally acceptable methods to test the single-use cigarette and compare it to tobacco cigarettes. At a speed of two puffs per minute, they captured the exhaled aerosol in a glass filter. Researchers used it to carry out numerous analyzes to determine the components of the steam.

What exactly are tobacco sticks?

Contents of tobacco sticks consist of a biopolymer filter

While cigarette smoking remains one of the most pressing global health problems of our time, over the past decade newer forms of smoking devices have been introduced around the world. Electronic nicotine / non-nicotine delivery systems, commonly known as electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), heat a solution (liquid) to create vapor. The latest addition to this list is the introduction of HNB (Heat-Not-Burn) tobacco products. These tobacco products are actually hybrids between electronic cigarettes and traditional tobacco cigarettes. This means that they are equipped with a device that heats the contents without burning it to generate aerosols, and the product to be heated is not a liquid but real tobacco.

Iqos heating rod device on tobacco sticks in close-up

The tobacco sticks are soaked in propylene glycol and, after drying, inserted into an HNB cigarette holder. When heated with an electric heating rod, the tobacco is heated to 350 degrees Celsius, which creates a feeling that is similar to smoking a normal cigarette. Propylene glycol, which is listed by the US Food and Drug Administration as a safe product for humans, is used as a preservative for tobacco, among other things. Traditional tobacco cigarettes typically burn at a little less than 800 degrees Celsius.

Tobacco sticks contain fewer pollutants?

Tobacco sticks tipping on the table with iqos device mouthpiece

In their study, the researchers also found that tobacco sticks contain 84% of the nicotine contained in conventional cigarettes. While nicotine is not in itself a carcinogen for humans, its inhalation has been postulated as the cause of tumors that can cause cancer. Among the chemicals in the smoke, scientists and medical professionals isolated carbon monoxide and those with names like acrolein, benzaldehyde, formaldehyde, and acenaphthene, from among more than two dozen others. The percentages of the last four chemicals compared to cigarettes were 82%, 50%, 74% and 295%. None of the other chemicals were greater than 41% of the amount found in a normal cigarette.

Study and research on the health effects of tobacco sticks in the laboratory

The research team used tobacco sticks and compared them to cigarettes. HNB cigarettes are sold in at least 19 countries around the world. Japanese respondents to an Internet survey published in 2015 showed that former and current smokers, as well as people between the ages of 15 and 39, tended to smoke HNB tobacco sticks. This study also breaks new ground by shedding light on the possible harmful effects of smoking HNB cigarettes. It is also highlighted that HNB cigarette smoke can be considered as exhaled smoke.

Tobacco sticks – Less harmful than cigarettes?

Burning cigarette with ash positioned straight on wood

As a caveat, the study could have used a greater number of brands of cigarettes when comparing HNB and conventional varieties. Overall, the results show that while inhaled smoke is short-lived, its consequences may not. Because of their novelty, there is little scientific research on these devices regarding their safety and usefulness for smoking cessation. The study concludes that devices such as cigarettes and e-cigarettes can cause inflammation, oxidative stress, and other harmful effects on the lungs and airways. In the long term, this can lead to serious health problems that typically occur in smokers, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer. The study is an important first step in understanding the potential harm of smokeless tobacco sticks that you just need to heat.

Tobacco sticks and e-cigarettes

what are the risks associated with nicotine consumption from e-cigarettes

So, non-burning tobacco products are the most novel iteration of electronic smoking. In contrast to e-cigarettes and vaporizers, however, no nicotine-enriched liquid (“e-juice”) is used. They use real tobacco. Inside the device is a carefully calibrated heating mechanism that heats the tobacco to approximately 299 ° C below the combustion temperature and creates an inhalable aerosol.

smokeless e-cigarettes still

Part of the appeal of such devices is that they can create a clearly noticeable sensation like traditional smoking, which is very often missing from other smokeless e-cigarette models. “Heat-not-burn” products are not yet available all over the world, but they have proven to be incredibly popular in test markets such as Europe and Asia, where some have been available since 2014. So the tobacco industry has yet to prove that their newest products, like these tobacco products, may be less harmful than cigarettes. Until then, the regulatory environment assumes that this is another tobacco product.

Tobacco sticks help smoking cessation?

blonde woman drinking coffee with iqos in hand

A debate at the federal level and related debate continues today. People should be given information on whether e-cigarettes and vaporizers actually help smokers quit. Another and equally important topic is the young generation, who feel addressed by it and could easily be attracted. In fact, tobacco stick advertising campaigns are likely to affect young non-smokers as well.

heated tobacco sticks are more harmful to health than cigarettes

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saw a dramatic increase of 1.5 million adolescent tobacco users between 2017 and 2018. This is due to the popularity of e-cigarettes among teenagers. While the role of e-cigarettes versus tobacco use is clear, they play a much lesser role in smoking cessation. Public health experts claim that tobacco sticks are just another attempt to get more people to smoke.

What is the risk?

The consumption of tobacco sticks is logically not without risk, although it produces less harmful pollutants. Of these, the manufacturer even claims that they are up to 95% less. They still produce nicotine, which is a very addicting, harmful substance. All symptoms and especially their explanations are based only on observation. These are not precisely measurable and cannot be considered more important than the opinion of an expert. If you have any health problems, anytime, you should speak to your doctor.

close up of tobacco from a cigarette

However, as mentioned above, some researchers analyzed the chemical compounds and nicotine in the smoke of traditional cigarettes. These are new devices that are great for heating disposable tobacco sticks and tasting tobacco without smoke or ash. Cigarettes that don’t burn also release cancer-causing chemicals, including carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

man pulls on a heated iqos tobacco product

However, there is no safe minimum limit for some of the chemicals found in unburned cigarette smoke, and some of these chemicals can contribute to the high death rate among smokers. Based on their results, the researchers conclude that heated tobacco sticks should fall under the same smoking bans. These also apply to conventional cigarettes and prevent bystanders from inhaling the fumes. That’s because the new tobacco products threaten advances in reducing the harm from secondhand smoke. Existing bans may not apply to cigarettes that you just heat up.

The bottom line

Woman in blue holds tobacco stick with device in both hands

What conclusion should a regular user draw? Tobacco sticks are definitely harmful and therefore cannot be recommended to non-smokers. For a classic cigarette smoker, the stick contains 80% to 90% less dangerous ingredients despite the potentially unknown harmful substances. Some experts have already admitted this. The water vapor produced by the evaporation of glycerine from the tobacco sticks does not contain any tar. In most cases, this is considered to be the main cause of diseases and cancers, as no paper is on fire.

iqos smoking marlboro man eric lawson

It has also become clear that giving tobacco sticks to a smoker significantly improves breathing after an initial cough of tar from the lungs, and makes the person feel better in a while. In addition, there is often a very high percentage of smokers who have helped these tobacco products to give up smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes for a short period of time. Nonetheless, we recommend that you take care of your health by placing as little pollutants on your lungs as possible.