Heated Tobacco Products (HTP)

In addition to e-cigarettes, tobacco companies have started to introduce tobacco heating systems. These devices work by heating the tobacco instead of burning it. The industry calls these "heat-not-burn" products to give the appearance that no harmful and health-hazardous substances would be released without a combustion process above 700°C, which is absolutely not true. Sometimes the tobacco is treated with a humectant such as propylene glycol to create an aerosol that is inhaled by the user. Manufacturers claim that this delivery method is much less harmful than conventional cigarettes, but current data on the health effects of these devices is sparse and most of what has been published comes from tobacco industry scientists.

From Philip Morris International's own data, it appears that dual use of heated tobacco products along with cigarettes is by far the most prevalent pattern of use, raising significant questions about what impact they might have on overall public health. In particular, research has shown that dual use is not associated with reduced cigarette consumption, but rather with increased exposure and worse health outcomes than when using conventional cigarettes or e-cigarettes alone.

Many of the heated tobacco products (HTPs) on the market are currently marketed as sleek, modern and high-tech products designed to entice young adults, especially women, to start using them.

In Switzerland, only HTP systems from PMI are available under the name IQOS. These came onto the market in 2015. PMI's goal was to reach 100,000 IQOS users by the end of 2019, which the company says it has almost achieved. According to an interview PMI's Swiss CEO gave to AWP[LD1] on 19 Nov 2021, 150,000 people use the IQOS system in Switzerland. PMI's CEO also points out that 70% of the users exclusively use this product. Leaving aside the fact that these PMI data are not independently verifiable, this would mean that the remaining 30% use an HTP product and conventional cigarettes at the same time.

On 2 November 2021, PMI launched a next-generation HTP system under the name ILUMA in Switzerland, as the first European test market after the launch of this new product in Japan in September 2021. The new HTP system uses an induction system to heat tobacco to very high temperatures. The new cigarette for this HTP (incompatible with the old system), contains – even according to the manufacturer's statements – a very sharp and potentially dangerous metal core. There are currently no studies or analyses available on the dangers of this new HTP product: To what temperature is the tobacco heated? Does the tobacco in question contain any additives or other chemicals? What is the composition of the metal piece in the cigarette core of this HTP and what amounts of heavy metals are released during operation?

The switch from IQOS to ILUMA now forces consumers to change devices, which – following the example of a well-known coffee machine brand – can only be operated with cigarettes of the same brand. In addition, the IQOS and ILUMA devices collect data via Bluetooth, which is transmitted to the manufacturer's app. PMI's interest in these products is based on the fact that the profit margin here is currently higher than for conventional cigarettes.


Truth Initiative (2019): E-cigarettes: Facts, stats and regulations. Factsheet. Online verfügbar unter https://truthinitiative.org/research-resources/emerging-tobacco-products/e-cigarettes-facts-stats-and-regulations.

Auer, Reto; Concha-Lozano, Nicolas; Jacot-Sadowski, Isabelle; Cornuz, Jacques; Berthet, Aurélie (2017): Heat-Not-Burn Tobacco Cigarettes: Smoke by Any Other Name. In: JAMA internal medicine 177 (7), S. 1050–1052. DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.1419. 

Bravo-Gutiérrez, Omar Andrés; Falfán-Valencia, Ramcés; Ramírez-Venegas, Alejandra; Sansores, Raúl H.; Ponciano-Rodríguez, Guadalupe; Pérez-Rubio, Gloria (2021): Lung Damage Caused by Heated Tobacco Products and Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems: A Systematic Review. In: International journal of environmental research and public health 18 (8). DOI: 10.3390/ijerph18084079.

Lee, Cheol Min (2020): The Impact of Heated Tobacco Products on Smoking Cessation, Tobacco Use, and Tobacco Sales in South Korea. In: Korean journal of family medicine 41 (5), S. 273–281. DOI: 10.4082/kjfm.20.0140.

Tobacco Tactics (2021): Next Generation Products. Hg. v. Tobacco Tactics. University of Bath. Online verfügbar unter https://tobaccotactics.org/wiki/next-generation-products/, zuletzt aktualisiert am 01.04.2021.


These topics might also interest you

Cigarettes and Loose Tobacco (RYO)

Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS)

Shisha and Water Pipe

Snus and Other Forms of Smokeless Tobacco

Puff Bar and other Disposable ENDS