BAT study examines how people use vapor and tobacco heating products

January 08, 2020

The way consumers use vapour and tobacco heating products (THPs) can affect the levels of harmful and potentially harmful constituents they are exposed to, and a new study has analysed how the use of these products compares with cigarette smoking.

Emissions from a number of tested vapour and THPs were shown to contain far fewer and lower levels of certain toxicants than cigarette smoke.*1,2 However, the way consumers actually use these products can have a significant bearing on the levels of harmful and potentially harmful constituents they are exposed to.

To investigate this, scientists at British American Tobacco (BAT) carried out an 'actual use study' in Italy, where it is common for people to smoke cigarettes as well as vape and use THPs. The study compared how consumers used BAT's THP glo, and vapour product iSwitch, as well as another commercially available THP and a reference cigarette.

"Understanding how a product is being used, and how often, allows for a holistic approach to risk assessment," says Joshua Jones, Human Studies Scientist at BAT.

As well as the average daily consumption of the products, the study determined puffing topography (puffing frequency, duration and volume) and corresponding mouth level exposure (MLE) to the aerosol.

The study found overall consumption of THPs was less than cigarettes, and MLE to dry particulate matter was significantly lower compared to cigarettes. On average, Italian consumers took puffs of similar volume and duration on both the vapour product and the reference cigarette.

The results have been published today in Scientific Reports.

"As an example, glo THP emissions contain around 90% less of certain toxicants than a cigarette* -- a reduction that is amplified by the reduced average daily consumption by consumers," says Jones.

"This data adds to growing evidence that Italian consumers are exposed to much lower levels of certain toxicants when using THPs and vapour products compared with traditional cigarettes, suggesting these products have the potential to be reduced risk compared with smoking."

The data will be used to ensure that laboratory-based product testing is realistic and reflective of real-world consumers, aiding in the development of potentially reduced-risk products.

1. Taylor, M., Thorne, D., Carr, T., Breheny, D., Walker, P., Proctor, C. and Gaça, M. 2018: Assessment of novel tobacco heating product THP1.0. Part 6: A comparative in vitro study using contemporary screening approaches. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, Volume 93, March 2018, Pages 1-104.

2. Forster, M., Fiebelkorn, S., Yurteri, C., Mariner, D., Liu, C., Wright, C., McAdam, K., Murphy, J., Proctor, C. 2018: Assessment of novel tobacco heating product THP1.0. Part 3: Comprehensive chemical characterisation of harmful and potentially harmful aerosol emissions. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, Volume 93, March 2018, Pages 14-33.

*Comparison of smoke from a scientific standard reference cigarette (approx. 9 mg tar) and vapour from iSwitch, or aerosol from heated tobacco in glo (as applicable), in terms of the 9 harmful components the World Health Organization recommends to reduce in cigarette smoke. This quality does not necessarily mean this product is less harmful than (other) tobacco products.

R&D at British American Tobacco

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