Japan: What’s happened now adult smokers are free to make better choices?

17 Dec 2019 · 3 min read
Cigarette sales have declined significantly since the introduction of our smoke-free alternative.
Japan couple flipped thumbnail (1)
  • The decline in cigarette sales increased five-fold following the introduction of our smoke-free product, according to a study for the American Cancer Society.

  • During the same period, combined sales of all tobacco products continued to decline.

  • The findings of a second independent study, published in May 2020, were “consistent with the conclusion” of the American Cancer Society study.

Japan is an example of the remarkable impact introducing smoke-free alternatives to continued smoking could have when it comes to ending cigarettes. 

And for that, there seem to be a number of factors in play: 

  • There are smoke-free products available.

  • Adult smokers know about them.

  • They have accurate and non-misleading information about the products.

  • These products are acceptable to them.

Independent research, significant results

In June 2019, a study conducted by researchers working for the American Cancer Society showed a significant decline in cigarette sales following the introduction of our heated tobacco product in 2015.

According to the study, cigarette sales had been declining by around 1.8 percent per year prior to the introduction, but this increased to 9.5 percent per year following the introduction. 

The authors of the study concluded it was the introduction of our heated tobacco product which “likely reduced cigarette sales in Japan.”

A second independent study, on how trends in cigarette sales in Japan correspond to the introduction of heated tobacco products, was published on May 20, 2020. Its conclusion was the following: “The accelerated decline in cigarette only sales in Japan since 2016 corresponds to the introduction and growth in the sale of HTPs.”

There was a very low uptake of our smoke-free product among never-smokers. We know this because we carried out repeated cross-sectional studies with the adult general population in Japan and with users of our smoke-free product. 

It’s time to make smoking history


World map made of green cubes

It’s time to make smoking history

Voiceover: Jacek Olczak, CEO, Philip Morris International 

This company wants to change the world. 

If we can get there this is going to be really phenomenal 

Fast-paced music starts 

Words on screen read: That’s why at Philip Morris International, we’ve committed to deliver a smoke-free future. 

Voiceover: Stefano Volpetti, President, Smoke-Free Inhaled Products & Chief Consumer Officer, PMI. 

This company has had the courage, the vision and leadership to establish a new direction. 

Voiceover: Bin Li, Chief Product Officer, PMI 

It's very difficult for a company to sign up for a big transformation like this. 

Words on screen read: Our ambition? To move away from cigarettes. 

Voiceover: Stacey Kennedy, President Americas Region and CEO of PMI’s U.S. business: 

We are building our company's future around better alternatives to smoking. 

Voiceover: Michael Voegele, Chief Digital and Information Officer, PMI: 

I think it's a unique challenge being part of a team that revolutionizes the industry 

Words on screen read: Since 2008, we’ve invested over 12.5 billion dollars in scientific substantiated smoke-free products. 

Voiceover: Jacek Olczak, CEO, Philip Morris International 

The end of cigarettes is given, it's about setting a date, setting a timetable, setting a path to get there. 

Words on screen read: And by 2030, we aim to have more than two-thirds of our net revenue come from smoke-free business. 

We were at 39% (as end of Q4 2023). 

Moira Gilchrist, Chief Communications Officer, speaks: 

So we've become a company that's centered on bringing better options to people. 

Voiceover: Lars Dahlgren, President, Smoke-Free Oral Products and CEO, Swedish Match: 

I've been impressed with the boldness of PMI articulating that the future is smoke free products. 

Words on screen read: Currently our smoke-free products are available in 84 markets 

Voiceover: Dr Moira Gilchrist, Chief Communications Officer, PMI: 

We set out to develop these products and gather scientific evidence. 

Voiceover: Dr Badrul Chowdhury, Chief Life Sciences Officer, Smoke-Free Products: 

You actually have a product where the hundred or so chemicals which are known to be harmful are reduced or eliminated. That's the scientific breakthrough. 

Voiceover: Dr Moira Gilchrist, Chief Communications Officer, PMI: 

This is transforming the entire industry. 

Voiceover: Jacek Olczak, CEO, Philip Morris International: 

The evidence is clear. Smoke-free alternatives can accelerate the end of smoking. The world has to move now to help smokers to move to the better alternative. 

Words on screen read: 28.6 million adults globally are using our leading heated tobacco product, of which 20.8 million have switched completely and stopped smoking. 

Voiceover: Jacek Olczak, CEO, Philip Morris International: 

It's time to make smoking history. 

Philip Morris International is seen on screen. 

Our data also confirms that our smoke-free product is reaching the intended audience—which is adult smokers—and is of very limited interest to adults who have never used nicotine products before, or adults who had already completely stopped using nicotine products.

Of course, the best thing a smoker can do is to quit cigarettes and nicotine altogether, but the reality is that many do not. The impact a smoke-free alternative can have on cigarette sales in a market such as this demonstrates the demand for these products as a viable option for those smokers who would otherwise continue smoking. 

This is a real example of the opportunity that exists for public health: smoke-free products as an additional asset and complement to measures aimed at preventing initiation and encouraging cessation. That’s in everyone’s interests.