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Citywide Smoking Ban May Drive Up Sales Of Heat-Not-Burn Devices In Tokyo

REUTERS/Toru Hanai/Illustration

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Lawmakers are banning smoking in all bars and restaurants in Tokyo, something analysts predict will cause a spike in sales of heat-not-burn devices like IQOS.

Officials with the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly approved an ordinance Wednesday greatly restricting where smokers can choose to light up. It will make smoking illegal in roughly 84 percent of Tokyo establishments, however, the ban will not impact heat-not-burn smoking alternatives, reported Bloomberg.

The ordinance will not take effect until April 2020, ahead of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Analysts with Nomura Securities Co., a financial services company in Japan, predict the new restrictions will cause smokers to flock to heat-not-burn devices, which will still be welcome in the city’s restaurants and bars. (RELATED: Study: Toxic Exposure Risks Plummet In Smokers Who Switch To Heat-Not-Burn Products)

The products are already proving wildly popular overseas, directly fueling an 18 percent drop in annual cigarette sales volumes in Japan after a little more than a year on the market.

A report released in May by Japan Tobacco (JT) reveals that due to the large sales of heat-not-burn products such as Philip Morris International’s (PMI) IQOS and British American Tobacco’s (BAT) glo, domestic cigarette sales for JT dropped by 13.2 percent in April, mimicking the monthly pattern of decline the company experienced in 2017 following the introduction of the IQOS in 2016.

The report also shows overall cigarette sales in Japan from all tobacco companies in April fell by 13.75 percent compared to April 2017 as customers ditched cigarettes for heat-not-burn alternatives.

“We have known for decades that a great many people who smoke cigarettes wish to reduce their risks,” David Sweanor of the Center for Health Law, Policy and Ethics at the University of Ottawa previously told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Various forms of smokeless tobacco, including Swedish snus and U.S. moist snuff allowed that to happen, but were stymied by bans and misleading warnings. We now have electronic options such as vaping and ‘heat-not-burn’ products like IQOS and glo. These have lead to sustained double-digit rates of decline in cigarette sales in Japan and South Korea.”

Public health experts focused on harm reduction say the unprecedented success of heat-not-burn products in overseas markets show the promising impact the technology could have on reducing global smoking rates.

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