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Health Issues

Heat-Not-Burn Tobacco Products


​​A device that heats tobacco without burning claims to be safer than cigarettes. Don't be fooled into thinking it's harmless! There is no safe type of tobacco use.

These heat-not-burn tobacco products became legal in the United States in 2019. They are different from vape pens, pod-b​ased devices like JUUL, and e-cigarettes.

What is I​QOS?

IQOS is a brand of heated tobacco products that is being marketed as "a better alternative to smoking." Because the tobacco is heated, the company claims that it has less chemicals than burned tobacco. These claims are based solely on research conducted by the tobacco industry. Independent studies are needed to help understand the health effects of using heat-not-burn devices.

The IQOS heat-not­-burn device uses a disposable tobacco unit called called a "HEET" or "HeatStick" filled with compressed ground tobacco, which is inserted into an electronic holder. Each "HeatStick" contains about the same amount of nicotine as one cigarette. An electronic heat element warms the stick and releases an aerosol that the user inhales. ​

Facts about heat-not-burn tobacco devices:

  • They produce an aerosol that contains nicotine, chemicals, additives, and flavorings by heating tobacco.

  • They contain about the same amount of nicotine as traditional cigarettes.

  • They are available in convenience stores and specialty shops.

  • They are NOT the same as e-cigarettes: these products use tobacco to deliver nicotine, whereas e-cigarettes use a liquid to deliver nicotine.

  • They give off secondhand aerosol that is unsafe to breathe (like a cigarette).

Heated tobacco products are NOT safe!

Heated tobacco products contain tobacco. There is no safe type or level of tobacco use, and there is no evidence that heated tobacco products are safer than traditional cigarettes.

They also contain many chemicals and components that have been designated as harmful by the FDA, including:

  • Carbon Monoxide

  • Nicotine

  • Heavy metals like arsenic, lead, and mercury

  • Acetone (found in nail polish remover)

  • Ammonia (found in fertilizers and household cleaners)

  • Benzene (found in gasoline)

This device can lead teens to become lifelong smokers.

Companies that make products like e-cigarettes and vape pens claim they can help smokers quit. But evidence is showing they lead to traditional cigarette use and are a way for the tobacco industry to attract new customers.

  • Beware of their sale to youth. Heated tobacco products are sleek, high-tech devices that are being designed and marketed in ways that are known to attract youth. While the legal age to buy tobacco products, including IQOS, is 21, online stores don't always ask for proof of age.

  • Heated tobacco products are highly addictive: IQOS and other heated tobacco products contain nicotine. Teens and young adults are easily addicted to nicotine. The US Surgeon General has declared that youth use of nicotine in any form is unsafe.

  • Menthol flavors are used to lure teens: For decades, the tobacco industry has used menthol and other flavors to attract young smokers. Menthol masks the harshness of cigarette smoke, making them easier to smoke and harder to quit. Menthol cigarette use is more common among young smokers than other age groups.

Prevention is the most effective way to protec​t kids from tobacco.

More information

Last Updated
Section on Tobacco Control (Copyright © 2019 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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