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Will U.S. Consumers Embrace Heat-Not-Burn Tobacco?

New research suggests that consumers will "heat" tobacco products in the United States.
October 20, 2017

WASHINGTON – While heat-not-burn tobacco products are still waiting for their U.S. debut, the products have found a receptive audience oversees, Healthline reports. Recent San Diego University research indicates that such non-burning tobacco products could soon hit U.S. store shelves.

Heat-not-burn tobacco products use real tobacco that’s heated via a battery-powered heating element to produce an inhalable aerosol. Most of the major tobacco firms have been dabbling in heat-not-burn and other alternative tobacco products to gain ground as smoking levels continue to drop.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been evaluating IQOS, the heat-not-burn technology from Philip Morris International. The agency will make its ruling by year’s end on whether IQOS can be marketed as a “modified risk tobacco product.” Currently, heat-not-burn tobacco products are being tested in Europe and Asia, and have received a positive reception in Japan over the past three years.

Meanwhile, the university’s research found strong interest in heat-not-burn tobacco products. “[Google searches] are probably a stronger indicator of interest than if you just asked on a survey,” said John Ayers, a lead study author and a research professor at San Diego State. “Here we’re observing people seeking out information on the product, potentially trying to buy the product.”

Their research appears to indicate that heat-not-burn tobacco products could eclipse electronic cigarettes. Today, in Japan each month, there are between 6 and 7 million “heat-not-burn” searches on Google—two years earlier, nearly no searches under those terms occurred at all. Ayers said this type of data has been used to predict album and movie sales too.