No smoke, but still hazardous

June 04, 2020

A technique that can better assess harmful chemicals adds to the analysis toolkit for cigarette alternatives.

This pioneering research by KAUST scientists reveals that a tobacco-heating device called "I quit ordinary smoking" (IQOS), emits many more potentially harmful chemicals than those identified by the manufacturer.

The IQOS device operates at a lower temperature than ordinary cigarettes: it heats tobacco sticks to around 300 degrees Celsius, whereas traditional cigarettes burn the tobacco at up to 900 degrees Celsius. It also differs from vaping systems, which heat liquids containing nicotine.

IQOS was developed by Philip Morris International and introduced to the market in 2014. The manufacturer claims it offers a safer alternative to traditional smoking, based on their own and other research. This suggested that IQOS achieves a very significant reduction in toxic exposure compared to regular cigarettes that burn tobacco.

"I wanted to assess the company's claims," says Bogdan-Drago? Ilie?, a PhD student at the KAUST Clean Combustion Research Center. He proposed an independent investigation to his supervisor, Mani Sarathy.

"We brainstormed different approaches to identifying the chemicals released by the heated tobacco sticks," says Ilies. They realized there were serious limitations with the previously used method, based on offline sampling techniques, because they could not identify potentially significant molecules, such as short-lived and reactive polar carbonyl compounds.

The team devised a real-time gas chromatography mass spectrometry analysis method that collected vapors directly from heated tobacco sticks. Their setup allowed the detection of small molecules that would not persist in the gaseous phase for a sufficiently long-enough time to be detected by previously used procedures. The researchers were nevertheless surprised that they identified as many as 62 compounds, only 10 of which were found in the tests by Philip Morris International.

The additional chemicals found by the researchers included the known toxic compounds diacetyl, 2,3-pentanedione, hydroxymethylfurfural and diethylhexyl phthalate. The latter may be especially significant as it is considered to be carcinogenic.

"It is crucial to monitor and identify any toxic and carcinogenic products released by these new tobacco heating products," Sarathy comments. He hopes that these findings from KAUST's independent investigations might lead to collaboration with tobacco companies to identify the health risks of their new products and to learn how to mitigate these risks.

"Our novel approach to identifying chemicals from heating tobacco sticks could also help to improve tobacco legislation around the world," says Ilie?. "It enlarges the set of analytical techniques available to identify harmful chemicals that were invisible to previous methods."

King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST)

Related Tobacco Articles from Brightsurf:

UC studies tobacco use, cancer connection
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati have identified new clues into ways tobacco use impacts patients with kidney cancer.

'Best' hospitals should be required to deliver tobacco treatment
A UCLA-led report published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine exposes what the authors call a weakness in the high-profile 'Best Hospitals Honor Roll' published annually by US News and World Report.

Small shops, heavy advertisers less likely to ID for tobacco
'Our findings suggest that certain types of stores -- tobacco shops, convenience stores and those with a lot of tobacco advertising -- are more likely to sell tobacco to a young person without checking his or her ID.'

Youth smoking and vaping: What does it mean for tobacco control
New research from PIRE/PRC features analysis of in-depth, qualitative interviews with young vapers in California between 15 and 25.

Truth telling about tobacco and nicotine
In 'Truth Telling about Tobacco and Nicotine,' PRC researchers explain that, although there is agreement among researchers about evidence that vaping can be less harmful than combustible cigarettes, the tobacco control community remains divided about how to communicate -- or even whether to communicate -- information about the relative risks of tobacco and nicotine products.

A 'joint' problem: Investigating marijuana and tobacco co-use
A survey of marijuana and tobacco co-users by Medical University of South Carolina investigators found that co-users with high degree of interrelatedness between their use of the two substances had greater tobacco dependence and smoked more cigarettes per day.

How genes affect tobacco and alcohol use
A new study gives insight into the complexity of genetic and environmental factors that compel some of us to drink and smoke more than others.

Tobacco use linked with higher use of opioids and sedatives
Tobacco is a known risk factor for the misuse of prescription opioids.

Changes in flavored tobacco product use among youth tobacco users
Self-reported use of flavored tobacco products by middle and high school students decreased from 2014 to 2016 but climbed back up in 2017 in an analysis of national survey data.

Heated tobacco product claims by tobacco industry scrutinized by UCSF researchers
Claims by the tobacco industry that heated tobacco products (HTPs) are safer than conventional cigarettes are not supported by the industry's own data and are likely to be misunderstood by consumers, according to research published in a special issue of Tobacco Control.

Read More: Tobacco News and Tobacco Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to