Toxicant levels in heated tobacco prototype are substantially lower than cigarettes

New research suggests that toxicants of notable public health interest are substantially reduced in the aerosol from our heated tobacco product (HTP) prototype, compared to smoke from a standard reference cigarette.

HTPs generate a nicotine-containing aerosol with a tobacco taste through the heating of tobacco via an electrical device. The tobacco is heated and not burned, so the aerosol generated is expected to contain substantially lower toxicant levels than the smoke produced during tobacco combustion.

The study, conducted at Imperial Brands laboratories in Hamburg, Germany, confirmed our expectations. The low heating temperature of tobacco in the HTP resulted in a distinct shift in the composition of the aerosol compared with cigarette smoke with relatively low levels of targeted cigarette smoke toxicants.

Findings included:

  • Toxicant levels in the HTP emissions were substantially reduced across all chemical classes measured compared to a cigarette. In particular, cigarettes produced almost 75 times more carbon monoxide per puff.
  • A further 42 toxicants of notable public health interest were also analysed and compared between the two products. Specifically:
    • For the nine toxicants proposed by the World Health Organization Study Group on Tobacco Product Regulation for mandated reduction in cigarette emissions, the mean average reduction in the HTP aerosol was over 97% per puff.
    • For the abbreviated list of harmful and potentially harmful constituents of smoke specified by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (excluding nicotine), overall average reductions in the HTP aerosol were almost 96% per puff.

Dr Grant O'Connell, Head of Scientific Affairs at Imperial Brands and study author, commented: "This study encouragingly suggests our prototype HTP may offer the potential for substantially reduced exposure to toxicants when used by adult smokers as an alternative to smoking, albeit not to the same extent as our preferred risk-reduced medium - e-vapor.

"Imperial is committed to conducting leading-edge science to substantiate the harm reduction potential of all our NGPs and provide the best opportunities for adult smokers looking for cigarette alternatives."​

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