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Early adoption of heated tobacco products resembles that of e-cigarettes.

  • Author(s): Zhu, Shu-Hong
  • Ong, Julian
  • Wong, Shiushing
  • Cole, Adam
  • Zhuang, Yue-Lin
  • Shi, Yuyan
  • et al.
Abstract

Background

Heated tobacco products (HTP) generate nicotine-containing aerosol by heating tobacco rather than burning it. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently authorised the sale of one HTP brand, iQOS, in the USA. This study examined the awareness, use and risk perceptions of HTP in the USA following FDA authorisation.

Methods

A national probability sample of 20 449 US adults completed an online survey between November 2019 and February 2020. In addition to assessing awareness and use of HTP, two ratios were calculated: the ratio of those who experimented with HTP given that they had heard about it (E/H) and the ratio of those who currently used HTP given experimentation (C/E). These ratios for HTP were compared against those for e-cigarettes from a similar national survey in 2012.

Results

Overall, 8.1% of respondents had heard of HTP. Only 0.55% had tried and 0.10% were current users. The rate of experimentation among those who heard about HTP and the rate of current use among experimenters were, however, similar to those for e-cigarettes in 2012: E/H and C/E for HTP were 6.8% and 18.2%, respectively; and 10.7% and 17.8%, respectively for e-cigarettes. The majority of respondents considered HTP either less harmful than (11.6%), or equally harmful as e-cigarettes (42.7%).

Conclusions

Only a small fraction of US population in 2020 have tried any HTP. However, the similarity in early adoption rates following awareness, suggests that future adoption for HTP may be similar to that for e-cigarettes, if HTP are marketed more aggressively.

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