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Heat-not-burn (HnB) tobacco products


Some tobacco companies have recently launched a new heat-not-burn (HnB) tobacco product, which has been claimed as a hybrid between conventional cigarettes and electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), for the consumption of real tobacco.  It uses real tobacco refills called tobacco stick.  These tobacco sticks may also contain non-tobacco additives, and are often flavoured.  The tobacco stick is claimed to be heated just enough to produce an aerosol but not combust.  For consumption, the tobacco stick is put into a holder that heats it and user draws on the stick.  The presence of real tobacco indicates retaining the addictive effect of nicotine.

Health effects

Since HnB tobacco products are new in the market, research on their health effects has been relatively scarce.  The World Health Organization (WHO) stated that currently there is no evidence to demonstrate that HnB tobacco products are less harmful than conventional tobacco products.  A research conducted by tobacco company claimed HnB tobacco products may be less harmful than combustible cigarettes, but other studies reported that such products may release carbon monoxide and formaldehyde, as well as secondhand smoke.  All of these are harmful substances.  On top of that, HnB tobacco products heat tobacco to release the additive nicotine which may cause nicotine dependence.

Recommendations by WHO and overseas regulatory regimes

Despite the WHO has yet to issue specific recommendations on HnB tobacco products, they stated that all forms of tobacco use are harmful, including HnB tobacco products.  Given the lack of evidence relating to both short-term and long-term health effects as well as use patterns of these products, the European Union asserted that it is in favour of a cautious approach to these products.

Can HnB tobacco products help smokers to quit smoking?

There is no evidence showing that HnB tobacco products could help smokers to quit.

Local situation

Tobacco products in Hong Kong are subject to regulation under the Smoking (Public Health) Ordinance (Chapter 371, Laws of Hong Kong).  Cigarette smoking (including HnB tobacco products) is banned in no smoking areas under the Laws. No smoking areas include all indoor public areas and some outdoor areas such as school campus, public parks and beaches.  Offenders are subject to a fixed penalty of $1,500.

Members of the public are reminded not to use any tobacco products and smokers are encouraged to quit smoking. At present, there are a number of community-based smoking cessation clinics available in Hong Kong.  Smokers are advised to call the Integrated Smoking Cessation Hotline of the Department of Health at 1833 183 for more information on smoking cessation.

Prevention of the Use on Heat-not-Burn (HnB) Tobacco Products

 Prevention of the Use on Heat-not-Burn (HnB) Tobacco Products (Cantonese VO only)



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  • European Commission. Answer given by Mr Andriukaitis on behalf of the Commission. (accessed on 14 July 2017).
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