‘Unsmoking’ explained using heated tech and fewer cancer-causing chemicals

Giving up cigarettes may be easier now than it’s ever been, thanks to smoking bans in public places, campaigns such as Stoptober and recent changes in technology.

According to the Annual Population Survey, only about 12% of Brits (or 5.9 million) were still smoking in 2020.

Health concerns remain one of the biggest reasons to quit, but the average smoker could also save hundreds of pounds by kicking the habit – and won’t have to deal with the lingering smell of smoke on their clothes!

Whatever your drive, it takes quitters around three months to overcome their addiction and within a year your risk of a heart attack halves.

Inspired? Then it could be time for you to take the plunge and put out your ciggies for good…

What's the harm?

We all know that nicotine is what makes cigarettes addictive, but there are other ingredients in those little sticks that cause more harm to our health – and it all happens when we burn them.

When we light up, tobacco burns at up to 900°C, releasing more than 5,000 chemicals. Most are poisonous, such as arsenic, formaldehyde and benzene (an industrial solvent), and up to 70 can cause cancer. Cigarette smoke also contains carbon monoxide, which rockets our risk of heart disease and stroke. Then there’s the sticky brown stuff called tar that collects in our lungs and can cause deadly emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Be warned: filtered, low-tar or “light” cigarettes are not safer options and won’t reduce the risk of disease.

A safer solution

Burning is the bad guy so experts say “just heat it” instead. Heated tobacco devices warm up real tobacco without burning it, eliminating smoke and ash and reducing smell.

It’s a bit different from e-cigarettes, which vaporise a solution containing nicotine. While heated tobacco isn’t 100% risk-free, by stamping out the burning process, fewer and lower levels of nasty chemicals are released. Heated tobacco is a hit in Japan as the only potentially less-risky alternative to smoking.

IQOS is the UK’s leading heat-not-burn product, using tobacco sticks called HEETS to mimic the experience of smoking a cigarette. From its global studies, IQOS estimates almost 70% (about 13.2million adult smokers) who trial it switch away from cigarettes for good. On average, buying a 20 pack of HEETS over 20 king size filter cigarettes will save you more than £200 a month!

Smoking stigma

Lighting up has developed a seriously bad reputation over the past decade. These days, half of non-smokers admit they’d avoid kissing or dating a smoker. Almost three-quarters say smokers smell bad and more than half think they’re putting a strain on the NHS – oh dear!

A third of smokers say they’re unfairly treated because of their habit, and half claim being judged only makes it harder to quit. But it’s not all bad news – most of us want to support those struggling to quit and agree more should be done to help people find less harmful alternatives to cigarettes.

The trouble with trying to quit

Smoking is one of the top 10 most addictive habits in the world, so it’s no surprise we find it tricky to stop. Almost half of UK smokers want to quit, but our 2022 New Year’s resolution attempts only lasted an average of 90 days.

As withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety and irritability creep in, going cold turkey can seem impossible.

People don’t only smoke for nicotine – there’s taste, ritual and sensory experience, too. And when e-cigarettes, nicotine patches and special chewing gum don’t curb cravings, a third wish they knew about more smoke-free alternatives.

‘We’ve unsmoked’

Researcher Mbali Toyana, 35, right, and her wife, Mpati, share their experiences with heated tobacco

Mbali says: "I smoked for 13 years in total. I tried to quit before but went back to it after a couple of years. I had so many reasons to quit smoking cigarettes, and the more I went into jobs that were client- facing, the more conscious I became of the smell.

"Then Mpati came home with this new device and these little boxes of heated tobacco. She was very serious about quitting cigarettes, and I’d got to that point too, so I tried it. Now there’s no more smell on my clothes and hands and I’m glad I’m no longer reliant on cigarettes. We realised that the habit no longer served us."

Mpati says: "I was introduced to heated tobacco by a friend’s boyfriend and that’s when I introduced it to my wife too. I’d never even seen nor heard of it, but he showed me the device and at first I couldn’t understand it. But he showed me exactly what to do and I decided to try it. I was smoking anyway, so I might as well try to change to something better.

"At first, I thought it was way too finicky, but now it’s like second nature. I’ve realised that the number of times we use heated tobacco is way less than we used cigarettes. It doesn’t smell like cigarettes do, and it doesn’t linger.

"Switching to heated tobacco just seemed like a natural choice for me. Now I’m glad we’re free of cigarettes. We’re present and we don’t miss a moment. We’ve unsmoked."

  • For more inFormation on heated tobacco, visit iqos.com.


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