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Heated tobacco product use up among Japan young adults, overall smoking down: gov't survey

IQOS, a heat-not-burn tobacco product, in which a "heat stick" stuffed with processed tobacco leaves is inserted into a black rechargeable holder. Users inhale vapor through the heat stick. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- The use of heated tobacco products is on the rise in Japan, with the proportion of inhalers among men who regularly smoke having risen to 30%, according to a 2018 health ministry survey.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare's National Health and Nutrition Survey took place in November 2018, aimed at a sample of around 6,500 men and women aged 20 or over. It asked the smokers among them what tobacco products they use. Within that subset of respondents, 30.6% of men and 23.6% of women said they use heated tobacco products. Although the survey is carried out every year, the 2018 edition was the first to feature questions on heated tobacco products.

Broken down by age group, the heat-not-burn tobacco products were popular among both men and women in their 20s to 40s. Over 50% of male smokers in their 20s and 30s use them, showing that the uptake of the items is primarily concentrated in the younger generations. The greatest number of respondents who smoke, 68.1% of men and 76.1% of women, said they only smoke paper-rolled cigarettes.

However, the proportion of men who answered that they have a smoking habit was down to 29%, the lowest since the survey began in 1986. A continuing trend downwards was also seen among women, with just 8.1% saying they smoke.

Additionally, 36.9% of surveyed nonsmokers singled out restaurants and bars as the place they encounter secondhand smoke. The other top most cited were when out in the street, at 30.9%, when at amusement centers such as arcades or slot houses, named by 30.3% of responders, and at work, which was picked by 28% of people.

Compared to when questions on secondhand smoke first made the survey in 2003, the rate of those saying they encounter secondhand smoke at home, work or restaurants has declined. Particularly the figure for eateries has fallen by 34 points, while it has dropped by 31.2 points for workplaces.

(Japanese original by Sooryeon Kim, Lifestyle and Medical News Department)

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