This site is intended for Healthcare Professionals only

Practice bookmark icon off

Customer scenario: An alternative to vaping

Question: I smoke but I'm increasingly worried about the harm cigarettes do. I can't see me quitting with nicotine replacement therapy, but I've just heard about heated tobacco devices as an alternative to vaping. What's your advice?

Sponsored Content

What's the response? 

Electronic cigarette devices vaporise a nicotine-containing liquid and there's good evidence that they can actually increase quit rates compared to NRT. They help stop People Smoking for at least six months.

But some recent research has also shown that tobacco heating systems, or THS devices, can be as effective as e-cigarettes for helping smokers to move away from cigarettes if they would otherwise continue to smoke. 2

These THS products are electronic devices that heat up a tobacco wad so that IT releases a nicotine vapour. However, the temperature means IT is not burning the tobacco so the vapour lacks the harmful compounds found in cigarette smoke. 3

This results in a huge reduction – down 95% – in the level of harmful compounds inhaled with a THS device compared to cigarettes. 4

THS devices have been around for a decade in other parts of the world. Japan introduced them in 2014 and they have become popular for many reasons. For example, they don't burn so there is no ash or smoke, and there is less smell than with cigarettes. 

More importantly, the data shows that THS products decrease Smoking as they help ease smokers away from cigarettes. 

You should bear in mind, though, that neither heated tobacco products nor e-cigarettes are risk free. Both product types, like cigarettes, generally contain nicotine. Nicotine is addictive and not risk free, but IT's not the primary cause of Smoking-related diseases. 

Whatever you decide, the best choice any smoker can make is to quit cigarettes and nicotine altogether. 

Quick facts: Tobacco heating system (THS) devices

  • An alternative to e-cigarettes in helping reduce the harms from smoking2,3,5
  • An electronic heat-control technology heats tobacco within a specific temperature range
  • As there is no combustion, no tobacco is burnt so the resulting aerosol is not smoke. 


  1. Hartmann-Boyce, J., et al. 'Electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation'. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2022, Issue 11. Art. No.: CD010216. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD010216.pub7. Accessed 18 June 2023. 
  2. Caponnetto, P., et al. 'Comparing Effectiveness, Tolerability, and Acceptability of Heated Tobacco Products vs. refillable Electronic cigarettes For Cigarettes substitution: CEASEFIRE randomized controlled trial'. JMIR Public Health and Surveillance. 2023;9:e42628. This study was supported by an Investigator-Initiated Study award by Philip Morris Products SA (PMI.IIS.2016.006).
  3. Cozzani, V., et al. (2020). An experimental investigation into the operation of an electrically heated tobacco system. Thermochim Acta 684: 178475
  4. Schaller, J. P., et al. (2016). Evaluation of the Tobacco Heating System 2.2. Part 2: Chemical composition, genotoxicity, cytotoxicity, and physical properties of the aerosol. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol 81 Suppl2: S27-S47
  5. Pratte, P., et al. (2017). Investigation of solid particles in the mainstream aerosol of the Tobacco Heating System THS2.2 and mainstream smoke of a 3R4F reference cigarette. Hum Exp Toxico 36: 1115-1120. 

This article is funded by an educational grant from Philip Morris Limited. 

Copy Link copy link button