Expert on ban of heated tobacco products: “I hope less young people will start”

A ban on the sale of flavoured heated tobacco products came into force in Czechia this week, bringing it in line with an EU directive issued last year. I discussed the move with Dr Eva Králíková, who heads a stop smoking clinic at Prague’s General Faculty Hospital.

“We should maybe at first explain what the difference is between heated tobacco and electronic cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes do not contain tobacco, it’s only liquid containing nicotine, and the health risk is very low.

Eva Králíková | Photo: Barbora Linková,  Czech Radio

“But what I can say from the experiences of our patients, those who switched from cigarettes to heated tobacco say two things: first, that they increased the consumption. And secondly, that it is harder for them to quit heated tobacco then cigarettes.”

Some experts argue that alternative nicotine products, including heated flavoured tobacco, are less harmful than traditional cigarettes, but I guess you don't agree with that?

“I don’t like the expression alternative forms of nicotine. Of course we do not have 100 years of experience, but we can measure what is inhaled by consumers of e-cigarette, heated tobacco and by regular smokers.

“And if you measure those toxic substances, none of them is without any impact on health. In e-cigarettes, the amount of toxic substances compared to tobacco smoke amounts to a maximum of five percent.

“This is definitely not true for heated tobacco. If you choose, let’s say, 100 highly toxic substances, in heated tobacco you can find about half of them in lower concentrations than in tobacco smoke. However, another 50 toxic substances can be found in higher concentrations. So, concerning the health impact of heated tobacco, it is very close to the health risk of smoking.”

One of the reasons the ban was introduced is the popularity of these products among young people. Isn’t it possible that some of these uses will switch back to regular cigarettes?

Photo: sarahj1,  Pixabay,  Pixabay License

“In countries where flavours were banned in e-cigarettes, people who stopped smoking due to e-cigarettes switched back to smoking, which is definitely not positive. But, as I said before, it is very hard to quit using heated tobacco, and heated tobacco is not recommended for quitting smoking.”

So what do you think will happen among those young users now that the ban was introduced? Will they travel elsewhere in Europe, where the ban has not yet been introduced?

“I am not sure if it’s necessary to travel across Europe, because you can buy it online. But I hope less young people will start using them. Heated tobacco has very impressive advertising on social networks aimed at very young people, so hopefully less of them will start.”