The Impact of Heated Tobacco Products on Smoking Cessation, Tobacco Use, and Tobacco Sales in South Korea

Korean J Fam Med. 2020 Sep;41(5):273-281. doi: 10.4082/kjfm.20.0140. Epub 2020 Sep 18.


Heated tobacco products (HTPs), a hybrid between conventional and electronic cigarettes, were first launched in South Korea in June 2017. Owing to advertisements stating that HTPs are odorless, tar-free, and less harmful to health, the sales of HTPs have grown quickly enough to account for about 10% of the total tobacco market in a year. HTP use by young, highly educated, and high-income groups had a significant impact on both the overall tobacco market over the past 3 years and the smoking and quitting behaviors of smokers. Based on national smoking rate statistics, tobacco sales trends, and the number of visitors to smoking cessation clinics, the following changes have been identified: (1) The decline in current smoking rates has slowed or rose in some groups. (2) The decline in total cigarette sales has slowed but rose again in the first quarter of 2020. (3) The number of visitors to smoking cessation clinics decreased just after the advent of HTPs. These results may be due to the insufficient support of tobacco regulation policies but also coincide chronologically with the appearance of HTPs in South Korea. It is necessary to investigate the usage rate of various tobacco products, including HTPs and e-cigarettes, to examine the health risks of novel tobacco products and provide accurate information to users and policymakers. Finally, tobacco companies are continuously developing new product concepts to escape the regulation of existing cigarettes; thus, comprehensive management measures for all nicotine-containing products are needed.

Keywords: Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems; Policy; Smoking; Surveys and Questionnaires; Tobacco.