BAT study shows new vaping technology significantly reduces exposure to toxicants

March 03, 2020

A vapour product that contains new-to-world technology has significantly fewer and lower levels of certain toxicants compared to cigarette smoke*, a study has shown.

Scientists at British American Tobacco (BAT) performed a series of chemistry tests designed to look for specific compounds in the vapour from iSwitch, BAT's new vapour product which uses a stainless-steel blade to heat e-liquid. The emissions from iSwitch were compared to those from a reference cigarette (1R6F).

The results -- published today in Chemical Research in Toxicology -- show the iSwitch vapour to have fewer and lower levels of certain toxicants than cigarette smoke. Some toxicants found in smoke are not in iSwitch vapour at all and others are much reduced by around 99%.*

"We are constantly innovating to seek to expand our potentially reduced-risk product portfolio," says Dr Chris Proctor, Group Head of Potentially Reduced-Risk Product Science at BAT.

Most conventional vaping devices are based on a coil-and-wick system whereby e-liquid is drawn up from a reservoir by a cotton wick. A metal coil is wrapped around the wick and, when heated, turns the liquid into vapour. The resulting vapour contains substantially fewer and lower levels of certain toxic substances than cigarette smoke.

However, some low-quality coil-and-wick systems, or those not used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions, can dry out or overheat, known as dry-wicking. This can cause the thermal breakdown of humectants in the e-liquid, leading to the formation of toxic compounds, such as carbonyls.

iSwitch's puretech stainless-steel blade replaces the coil-and-wick, and it is constantly fed e-liquid by a capillary system. This means it does not overheat or dry out, overcoming the issue of dry-wicking.

"As well as improving the performance of vaping devices, puretech lessens the risk of humectant thermal breakdown, further reducing emissions of potentially harmful substances," says Chuan Liu, Senior Principal Scientist at BAT.

"This was reflected in our study, which showed that, even when used at high power settings, iSwitch emissions contain no or extremely low levels of analytes."

Human studies are needed to further substantiate the results of these tests.

*Comparison of smoke from a 1R6F reference cigarette (approx. 9 mg tar) and vapour from Vype iSwitch, in terms of the 9 harmful components the World Health Organization recommends to reduce in cigarette smoke. This quality does not mean this product is less harmful than tobacco products.

R&D at British American Tobacco

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