IQOS vs Cigarettes: What’s the Difference?

If you’re an adult smoker looking to switch from continued smoking to an IQOS heated tobacco device, you’ll likely have questions on how these products compare. So, how do they? Is IQOS better than cigarettes? 

When comparing IQOS vs cigarettes, there are many factors to explore. Deciding to make the switch is one thing, but finding a device that suits your needs is another. That’s why it’s useful to know the crucial differences between these products.

How Is IQOS Different from Smoking?

While you might think that cigarettes and IQOS are similar, it’s important to know that they’re not. Understanding how these products differ could help adult smokers better understand what to expect when moving to an IQOS product over continued smoking, and the benefits of IQOS they could experience from this.

There are some key differences between cigarettes and IQOS, which are explored below. For this comparison, we’ll be focusing primarily on our latest heated tobacco system IQOS ILUMA. You can find out more on how this new series of IQOS devices differs from the older generation IQOS 3 DUO here

Heating vs Burning

Unlike cigarettes, IQOS ILUMA does not burn tobacco and therefore produces no smoke. IQOS ILUMA Smartcore Induction Technology heats tobacco instead of burning it to deliver the taste of real tobacco. Moreover, switching completely to IQOS ILUMA presents less risk to your health than continuing to smoke.* IQOS ILUMA emits 95% less harmful chemicals compared to cigarettes.**

Important information: IQOS ILUMA is not risk-free, and provides nicotine which is addictive.

*  Based on the totality of evidence available for IQOS in comparison with continuing to smoke.
** “95% less” represents the average reduction in levels of the 9 chemicals recommended for reduction in cigarette smoke by the World Health Organization, which do not include nicotine. It does not necessarily equal a 95% reduction in risk. See Important Information on

TEREA and HEETS are the consumables used in IQOS products. However, it’s important to note that TEREA and HEETS can only be used in certain IQOS devices. HEETS are used in IQOS 3 DUO and older IQOS generations, whereas TEREA sticks are used in IQOS ILUMA devices. When exploring TEREA and HEETS vs cigarettes, while they all contain tobacco, the tobacco is heated in IQOS devices, and burned in cigarettes.

While the information above explores IQOS ILUMA and their compatible TEREA sticks, adult users with older IQOS generations may be wondering, are HEETS better than smoking? When it comes to older generations, the difference is down to technology and the experience. IQOS, no matter what generation, is still a better choice than continued smoking.  

No Smoke

As the IQOS range, including our latest IQOS ILUMA series, heats tobacco instead of burning it, they don’t produce smoke. Cigarettes expose others to smoke – IQOS ILUMA doesn't. IQOS ILUMA doesn’t produce smoke or second-hand smoke. It produces a tobacco vapor that contains significantly less harmful chemicals*, resulting in less impact on the air around you and others compared to cigarette smoke.

Important information: IQOS ILUMA is not risk-free for you or others around you.

* Reductions in levels of the 9 harmful chemicals the World Health Organization recommends to reduce in cigarette smoke, which do not include nicotine. See Important Information on

No Ash

Another one of the benefits of IQOS ILUMA is the lack of ash. For example, IQOS ILUMA produces no ash. Moreover, unlike cigarettes, IQOS ILUMA has no risk of burning others around you, pets, clothes, and furniture as there is no lit end.

This means there is no ash to dispose of, whereas there is when smoking cigarettes. Once you’ve finished your heated tobacco experience, simply remove the TEREA tobacco stick from the IQOS ILUMA device - or HEETS stick if using older IQOS generations - and dispose of it responsibly.

Less Smell

Another factor that sets IQOS ILUMA apart in the IQOS vs cigarettes comparison is their smell. IQOS ILUMA produces less smell than cigarettes.* As IQOS ILUMA produces less smell than cigarettes, it is less likely to bother people around you.**

* 93% agreement amongst 674 adult consumers in Japan and Italy, 2020 – 2021.
** 85% agreement amongst 674 adult consumers in Japan and Italy, 2020 – 2021. 

Less Teeth Staining

Another one of the benefits of IQOS ILUMA to explore is its impact on teeth staining compared to cigarettes. Did you know, IQOS ILUMA leaves significantly less stains on your teeth* than cigarettes. What’s more, IQOS ILUMA will not stain your fingers.

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

*  Non-clinical laboratory study conducted in Switzerland with IQOS aerosol on human teeth and the most widely used dental composites. Contrary to real world conditions, teeth were not exposed to other staining substances which may influence the results.


Adult smokers across the UK may be looking to cut costs. Using IQOS products such as IQOS ILUMA could be better value for money than continuing to smoke. This is because the price for a pack of TEREA tobacco sticks is £6. At £6 per pack, you can save up to £3,000* a year when you switch. Similarly, HEETS are also priced at £6. 

* Claim compares (i) the cost of smoking an average priced pack of cigarettes (with king size filter) per day, and (ii) the cost of buying an IQOS ILUMA ONE Starter Kit (RRP £39), and then consuming one pack of TEREA daily (RRP £6). In April 2023, the average price for a pack of cigarettes with king size filter was £14.40 (ONS data). Savings will vary depending on IQOS ILUMA model and Starter Kit selected. For further information, visit IQOS ILUMA™ is only compatible with TEREA™ sticks. Using TEREA™ sticks with previous IQOS™ generations may cause damage to your device. TEREA™ sticks contain a metal part; do not disassemble. Keep out of reach of children. 

If you’re interested in learning more about switching from continued smoking to IQOS, read our guide on stopping smoking cigarettes and switching to heated tobacco. Here, you’ll find more information on the benefits of IQOS devices.

You can even try IQOS ILUMA before you buy. Learn more about our 14-day trial, giving adult smokers the opportunity to try IQOS ILUMA for £10.

Smoke-free products are not risk-free and provide nicotine, which is addictive. Smoke-free products are not an alternative to quitting and are not designed as cessation aids. The best decision any adult smoker can make is to quit tobacco and nicotine use altogether.

This article is for general information and educational purposes. Some of the information in this article is based on external, third-party sources and we make no representations or warranties of any kind regarding the accuracy, validity or completeness of such information. 

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