Factors that influence smokers' and ex-smokers' use of IQOS: a qualitative study of IQOS users and ex-users in the UK

Charlotte N E Tompkins, Annabel Burnley, Ann McNeill, Sara C Hitchman

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49 Citations (SciVal)


BACKGROUND: One of the most widely available heated tobacco products is IQOS by Philip Morris International. However, there is a lack of independent research exploring IQOS initiation and subsequent use among smokers and ex-smokers.

AIMS: To (1) explore the reasons why smokers and ex-smokers use and continue/discontinue IQOS and (2) consider implications for future research and policy.

PARTICIPANTS: Adult (18+) current (n=22) and ex-users (n=8) of IQOS who either currently smoked or quit smoking in the last 2 years.

METHODS: Qualitative interview study in London, UK.

RESULTS: Six main factors influenced initiation and use of IQOS: (1) Health-wanting to reduce/quit smoking and perceptions of reduced harm (while understanding IQOS was not risk-free). Branded packaging, absence of pictorial warnings and physical health improvements conveyed reduced harm. (2) Financial-including high start-up costs, but cheaper ongoing costs than smoking. (3) Physical-mixed views on enjoyment and satisfaction. Sensory experiences influenced use including discreetness, cleanliness, reduced smell and tactile similarities relative to combustible cigarettes. (4) Practical-issues of accessibility, shortcomings with maintenance/operation limited ongoing use, whereas use in smoke-free places increased use. (5) Psychological-similarities in rituals and routines, although new practices developed to charge and clean; some liked trailblazing new technology. (6) Social-improved social interactions from using IQOS instead of smoking, but with more limited shared social experiences for some.

CONCLUSION: For some, IQOS facilitated smoking substitution. Factors such as packaging, labelling, risk communication, price and smoke-free policies appear to influence initiation and use.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTobacco Control
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2020. Re-use permitted under CC BY. Published by BMJ.


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