IQOS is often considered the safer alternative to cigarettes and is sometimes referred to as a future of smoking. But before coming to the question that whether is good or bad, we need to have some basic knowledge about the same.
What is IQOS?
IQOS is a tobacco product that heats the tobacco which is wrapped in a special paper to deliver nicotine to users. IQOS contains “heat sticks” inside, which are heated, and nicotine is released with other tobacco components and flavors for users to inhale. This heat stick heats the tobacco at a lower temperature as compared to conventional cigarettes. It is a battery-operated device that is available in several flavors. The concept behind is that it allows users to experience what looks and feels like smoking a regular cigarette without inhaling combusted tobacco.
Philip Morris International (PMI) introduced IQOS to the media as
- I – I
- Q- Quit
- O- Ordinary
- S- Smoking
It was first developed by Altria and Philip Morris, the same company’s tobacco companies but afterward had a split. Presently, Philip Morris is marketing the product internationally, whereas Altria is distributing the product domestically with an agreement. IQOS under the flagship of PMI(Philip Morris International) was first trialed in Milan (Italy), and then Nagoya (Japan) in 2014.
The distribution was made possible in the U.S. after it was approved for sale by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the year 2019. FDA cleared that it permitted the tobacco products to be sold in the United States but it does not mean that these products are safe or ‘FDA approved’.
In which countries IQOS is available?
IQOS is available in Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Aruba, Austria, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Canary Islands, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Curaçao, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Italy, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kuwait, La Réunion, Lebanon, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, the Maldives, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, the Netherlands, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Palestine, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. as per PMI website.
IQOS vs cigarettes
The IQOS produces slightly less blood nicotine than traditional cigarettes, but more than nicotine gum. A 2016 study found that smokers were less satisfied and had a lower reduction in cravings using it than traditional cigarettes. These are electronic devices that heat tobacco leaves to produce an inhalable aerosol, instead of burning tobacco like cigarettes. According to Tobacco companies, heat-not-burn products are less harmful than cigarettes because when tobacco burns it produces more than 7,000 chemicals that are found in cigarette smoke.
Philip Morris claims that their product is less toxic than cigarettes, but multiple pieces of researches for Tobacco Control concluded that the company’s data does not fully support those claims. Research shows that it may have lower levels of some toxicants than cigarettes, but it can still expose its users to higher levels of other toxicants. IQOS might expose its users to lower risks of some diseases, but higher risks of others.
Philip Morris’s research highlight the fact that fewer toxic chemicals do not mean lower levels of harm when people use the product, and that reduced exposure claims are misunderstood as reduced harm claims. Ultimately its tobacco, the chemicals released in the aerosol from the device are the same cancer-causing substances found in cigarettes and e-cigarettes. Some of them were found in IQOS at higher levels, while others were at lower levels. Heating the tobacco rather than burning may produce fewer cancer-causing substances and these are released are in lower amounts.
IQOS vs e-cigarettes
IQOS is different from e-cigarettes because they use actual tobacco, not the flavored e-liquid typically found in e-cigarettes. IQOS is considered to be better than e-cigarettes as it has tobacco and it is combusted, though at a much lower temperature whereas e-cigarettes contain all the extra crap besides tobacco that the manufacturer puts in to make it more addictive, and more dangerous and produces tar that contains carcinogens and carbon monoxide. Electronic cigarettes consist of a liquid comprising propylene glycol, and or vegetable glycerine, water, flavorings, and nicotine.
IQOS is good or bad for health
As per Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, IQOS is “harmful to health, but probably less harmful than smoking tobacco cigarettes”. It produces mainstream and second-hand emissions of harmful chemicals, including nicotine, particulate matter, benzene, acrolein, and tobacco-specific nitrosamines. The same company’s tobacco levels of these emissions, despite being less than the traditional cigarettes, are potentially harmful to cardiovascular health. A study of current smokers showed similar acute effects of IQOS and traditional cigarettes on heart rate, blood pressure, and arterial stiffness.
When rats were exposed to IQOS, had similar vascular endothelial function impairment to those exposed to cigarettes. Its aerosol exposure of cultured macrophages elicited increased oxidative stress, although less than that induced by cigarette smoke.
Does IQOS helps in quitting smoking?
IQOS is not a smoking termination device nor introduced as a device to quit smoking. So, if you want to quit smoking, don’t rely on IQOS. You can prefer Nicotex Chewing Gum that helps to quit Smoking using Nicotine Replacement Therapy and there are many ways for the same. The best way to quit smoking is to ditch tobacco.
Now, coming to the question of whether it is good or bad, we know cigarette smoke can result in significant harm to health. As per Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, IQOS is “harmful to health, but probably less harmful than smoking tobacco cigarettes”. It is better than traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes but it can cause similar health effects as both, and neither it helps in quitting smoking. After all these facts, it is your call to decide- is IQOS is good or bad.