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Heated tobacco products do not help smokers quit or prevent relapse: a longitudinal study in Japan


Background Heated tobacco products (HTPs) are often marketed as a safer alternative to help cigarette smokers quit. We investigated the link between HTP use and smoking cessation and relapse.

Methods 7044 adults (≥20 years old) with at least two observations over three waves (2019–2021) of a longitudinal, nationwide, internet-based survey were classified into current (past 30-day), former and never cigarette smokers. ≥1 month and ≥6 months smoking cessation and smoking relapse at 1-year follow-up were assessed in relation to current HTP use at baseline. Generalised estimating equation models were weighted to account for population differences between HTP users and non-users. Adjusted prevalence ratios (APRs) were computed within population subgroups.

Results At baseline, 17.2%, 9.1% and 6.1% of the respondents were current cigarette smokers, HTP users and dual users, respectively. Among current established smokers (having smoked regularly, n=1910), HTP use was significantly associated with a decreased likelihood of ≥1 month cessation within those who reported having used evidence-based cessation measures (APR=0.61), smoking 20+ cigarettes per day (APR=0.62), high school education or less (APR=0.73) and fair/poor health (APR=0.59). Negative associations were also seen for ≥6 months cessation among those aged 20–29 years (APR=0.56) and full-time workers (APR=0.56). Among former smokers (n=2906), HTP use was associated with smoking relapse within those who last smoked >1 year ago (APR=1.54), among women (APR=1.61), those aged 20–29 years (APR=2.09), those reporting high school education or less (APR=2.36), those who were unemployed/retired (AOR=3.31) and never/non-current alcohol users (APR=2.10).

Conclusion HTP use did not help smokers quit or prevent former smokers from relapsing. HTPs should not be recommended as a cessation aid.

  • Cessation
  • Denormalization
  • Non-cigarette tobacco products
  • Surveillance and monitoring

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. The data that support the findings of this study are available from the author (TT) upon reasonable request.

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