Alternative nicotine products lead to reduction in smoking rates: report

Alternative nicotine products can have a "significant" impact on reducing smoking rates as demonstrated by case studies in Japan and Sweden, a report showed Friday.

In a policy paper dubbed “Safer Nicotine Works,” Tholos Foundation said it has found that alternative nicotine products, ranging from snus, nicotine pouches and gum to vapes and tobacco heating products, help people quit smoking cigarettes.

Japan saw smoking rates, those that smoked cigarettes daily, decline from 19.8 percent to 17.8 percent in just two years between 2017 and 2019 after tobacco heating products were introduced to the market in 2016, the report said. The rate had dropped less than 2 percent over a 14-year period from 2003.

In 2020, the number of male smokers plummeted to below 30 percent for the first time in history. THPs’ launch there also led to a 32 percent drop in cigarette sales in the five years to 2021.

Sweden attributed its decline in smoking rates to snus -- small pouches like tea bags that stick between the upper lip and gum -- and nicotine pouches, as well as taxation on tobacco products. Sweden is the only member state of the European Union that permits the sales of snus.

Close to winning the title of the world’s first “smoke-free” country, Sweden recorded a smoking rate of 5.6 percent in 2022, the lowest in Europe. The rate of those that smoked daily halved from 11.4 percent in a decade.

The research concludes that the alternative nicotine products can be a realistic, less harmful solution to reducing smoking rates.

The foundation issued the paper jointly with Japan-based Pacific Alliance Institute and Sweden’s Scantech Strategy Advisors.

Separately, South Korea’s smoking rate is steadily declining alongside a growing THP market.

THPs, which first entered the Korean market in 2017, took up about 27.8 percent of the nation’s tobacco market this year, according to the Korea Health Promotion Institute’s National Tobacco Control Center.

KT&G’s lil, Philip Morris’ Iqos and BAT Rothmans’ Glo are some of the THPs sold in Korea.

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