What are tobacco sticks?
Answer From J. Taylor Hays, M.D.
Tobacco sticks are a type of heated tobacco product. Tobacco is heated — not burned — to create an aerosol that can be inhaled. Tobacco sticks are sometimes called heat-not-burn cigarettes.
Heated tobacco products are available in many countries. The Food and Drug Administration allows the sale of some in the U.S. but cautions that this doesn't mean these products are safe or "FDA approved."
Tobacco companies claim that these products are less harmful than conventional cigarettes. They point to experiments showing that heating tobacco produces lower levels of harmful compounds than burning does.
More research is needed to confirm these findings and determine if switching from conventional cigarettes to tobacco sticks translates to a significant reduction in health risks.
However, there's no question about the dangers of tobacco. Decades of research has proved that tobacco is toxic and contains cancer-causing chemicals. For your health, the best choice is stay away from tobacco in any form.
If you smoke, consider quitting. Ask your doctor about approved medicines and counseling (in person, online or by phone) to support your quit attempt. Heated tobacco products have not been shown to help people quit smoking.
Feb. 26, 2020
J. Taylor Hays, M.D.
See more Expert Answers
- Heated tobacco products. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/heated-tobacco-products/index.html. Accessed Feb. 12, 2020.
- Lempert LK, et al. Heated tobacco product regulation under U.S. law and the FCTC. Tobacco Control. 2018; doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2018-054560.
- Heated tobacco products (HTPs) information sheet. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/tobacco/publications/prod_regulation/heated-tobacco-products/en/. Accessed Feb. 12, 2020.
- FDA permits sale of IQOS Tobacco Heating System through premarket tobacco product application pathway. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-permits-sale-iqos-tobacco-heating-system-through-premarket-tobacco-product-application-pathway. Accessed Feb. 12, 2020.
- How are non-combustible cigarettes, sometimes called heat-not-burn products, different from e-cigarettes and cigarettes? U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/tobacco-products/products-ingredients-components/how-are-non-combusted-cigarettes-sometimes-called-heat-not-burn-products-different-e-cigarettes-and. Accessed Feb. 12, 2020.
- Mallock N, et al. Heated tobacco products: A review of current knowledge and initial assessments. Frontiers in Public Health. 2019; doi:10.3389/fpubh.2019.00287.
- Ratajczak A, et al. Heat not burn tobacco product — A new global trend. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020; doi: 10.3390/ijerph17020409.
- AskMayoExpert. Tobacco use. Mayo Clinic; 2019.