J Korean Med Assoc.  2018 Mar;61(3):181-190. 10.5124/jkma.2018.61.3.181.

Issues of new types of tobacco (e-cigarette and heat-not-burn tobacco): from the perspective of ‘tobacco harm reduction’

  • 1Department of Family Medicine, Healthcare System Gangnam Center, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Korea.
  • 2Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Soonchunhyang University, Asan, Korea.
  • 3Department of Family Medicine, Dankook University School of Medicine, Cheonan, Korea. drloved@hanmail.net


E-cigarettes, heat-not-burn (HNB) tobacco, and other new types of tobacco products are emerging in Korea. These products are particularly popular among smokers who are looking for less harmful means of tobacco consumption, and are highly relevant for existing tobacco control policies. E-cigarettes, which are electronic devices designed to allow the user to inhale nicotine as a vapor, are controversial in terms of their safety and effects on smoking cessation, as a variety of harmful substances have been detected in e-cigarette vapor. Due to policy differences in tobacco harm reduction, the regulations on e-cigarettes differ from country to country, and domestic regulations regulate e-cigarettes in a manner similar to conventional cigarettes. In contrast, HNB tobacco was introduced in Korea in June 2017, and is rapidly expanding in the market, as active marketing campaigns seek to communicate to consumers that HNB tobacco use involves no tar and is less harmful to health. However, the World Health Organization and several professional groups have argued that based on independent studies not supported by tobacco companies, HNB tobacco should be regulated in the same way as conventional cigarettes because there is no evidence that HNB tobacco is less harmful. Clinicians need to expand their understanding of new tobacco products so that they can provide appropriate counseling.


Tobacco; Smoking cessation; Electronic nicotine delivery systems; Heat-not-burn

MeSH Terms

Electronic Cigarettes
Harm Reduction
Smoking Cessation
Social Control, Formal
Tobacco Products
Tobacco Use
World Health Organization
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