IQOS vs. Cigarettes: What’s the Difference?


Graphic of IQOS holder and graphic of cigarette

When people first find out about heated tobacco, they often wonder, what is the difference between IQOS and cigarettes? Whilst IQOS differs from cigarettes in a few ways, IQOS can give smokers a similar experience to what they are familiar with, whilst being a better alternative than continued smoking. Find out how using IQOS compares to smoking below:

How IQOS and cigarettes are similar

Both HEETS and cigarettes contain tobacco

When people are trying to move to less harmful alternatives, they often miss the tobacco taste that comes with cigarettes. Unlike e-cigarettes, HEETS contain real tobacco.

Both HEETS and cigarettes contain nicotine

Both cigarettes and HEETS contain naturally occurring nicotine found in tobacco.

Similar ritual

From the weight of the IQOS holder, to the time taken to use each HEETS tobacco stick and the feel of the filter in your mouth – all of these considerations have been specially designed to give you a familiar experience.

How IQOS is different from smoking

Heating versus burning

Heating tobacco rather than burning is what sets IQOS apart from traditional cigarettes, representing a better alternative than continuing to smoke. In heating rather than burning tobacco, IQOS emits on average 95% lower levels of harmful chemicals compared to cigarettes.1 The majority of smokers who switch to IQOS completely quit cigarettes.2

Important Information: It does not necessarily equal a 95% reduction in risk. IQOS is not risk-free.


Using IQOS is a better value alternative than continuing to smoke. With the price of a pack of 20 HEETS tobacco sticks at £5, this is less than half the price of a pack of cigarettes.3

If you’re a smoker who consumes 10 cigarettes a day, you can save over £1,000 per year if you switch completely to HEETS.3 Find out more here.

Less impact on others

  • No smoke

    Unlike cigarettes, HEETS do not produce smoke when used with IQOS. This is because the tobacco is not burned. Instead, it is heated to a controlled temperature by a specially designed heating blade. This heating process emits a vapour, contrary to cigarettes there’s no second-hand smoke produced or negative impact that results on indoor air quality.4

  • No ash

    As IQOS doesn’t burn there is no ash to dispose of during your experience or afterwards. Once you’ve finished your IQOS experience, simply remove the HEETS tobacco stick from the device and dispose of it safely.

  • Less smell

    IQOS leaves less lingering smell on hands, hair and clothes than cigarettes. The vapour produced from IQOS doesn’t smell as strong as cigarette smoke which makes for a more discreet tobacco experience.

  • Less teeth staining

    IQOS leaves significantly less stains on your teeth5 than cigarettes. This makes IQOS a better alternative than continued smoking for those concerned about teeth staining and appearance.

Important information: If teeth are already stained, switching to IQOS will not reverse the colour of those stains.

You can Try IQOS before you buy to find out for yourself if IQOS is better than cigarettes. Find out more about our 14-day trial which gives you the opportunity to try IQOS for £10 upfront.

Important information: IQOS is not risk-free. It delivers nicotine, which is addictive.

1”95% less” represents the average reductions in levels of a range of harmful chemicals (excluding nicotine) compared to the smoke of a reference cigarette (3R4F). See important information on

2Source: PMI Financials or estimates, IQOS user panels and PMI Market Research.

3Assumes average price of cigarettes at £10.77 per pack. Source: ONS dataset. Average price – Cigarettes 20 king size filter, 2019.

4Source: PMI study conducted under ISO standards simulating real-world scenarios and based on threshold limits established by existing air quality guidelines.

5Source: non clinical laboratory study conducted in Switzerland with human teeth and the most widely used dental composites. Contrary to real world conditions, teeth were not exposed to other staining substances such as coffee, tea or wine, which may influence the results.

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This website is intended only for users of nicotine or tobacco products who are over 18.

This website is restricted to adults in the United Kingdom who would otherwise continue to smoke or use nicotine products. Our nicotine and tobacco products are not an alternative to quitting and are not designed as cessation aids. They are not risk-free. They contain nicotine, which is addictive. Only for use by adults. Please visit the Important Information page for further risk information.