Japan Cigarette Sales Plunged After HTP Entry

Japenese smokers congregating in an outdoor smoking area in Tokyo
Photo: Colleen Williams

Between 2015 and 2019, total cigarette sales in Japan dropped by 34 percent, which can be associated with the commercial launch of heated tobacco products (HTPs), according to a white paper prepared by Frost & Sullivan and Philip Morris International (PMI).

Titled Tobacco Harm Reduction and Novel Nicotine and Tobacco Products: Evidence from the Japanese Market, the report covers the impact of the commercial launch of novel nicotine and tobacco products (NNTPS) on tobacco use in japan and discusses the regulatory approach that the Japanese government is taking with regard to these products. It focuses on the Japanese market because HTPs have been commercially available in the country since 2013, and Japan is the largest market for HTPs, despite the absence of a formal THR policy to encourage this.

“The commercial availability of HTPs in Japan is associated with a significant drop in conventional cigarette sales, well ahead of the previous rate of decline,” explains Mark Dougan, consulting director, healthcare, Frost & Sullivan.

“Moreover, even after HTPs became available, sales of all tobacco products (HTPs and conventional cigarettes) continued to fall. Although there is mixed evidence, data from the 2019 National Health Survey indicates that 76 percent of consumers who use HTPs do so exclusively. Only 24 percent of HTP users maintain dual-use.”

According to Dougan, the Japanese government is differentiating HTPs from conventional cigarettes in regulations such as taxation, health warnings and indoor use restrictions, with HTPs generally receiving less-stringent regulatory settings than conventional cigarettes.

Frost & Sullivan also noted that the availability of HTPs has had a low impact on the initiation of tobacco use by never-smokers and re-initiation by former smokers. In addition, HTPs are also less likely to cause household fires than conventional cigarettes, which are the leading cause of household fires in Japan.

The remarkable recent decline of smoking Japan was also covered during the recent GTNF by Hiroya Kumamaru, a cardiovascular surgeon and vice director of AOI International Hospital in Kawasaki.