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Smoking cessation

Switching from cigarettes to tobacco heating products reduces exposure to toxicants, tobacco industry study finds

Concentration of certain cigarette smoke toxicants in urine samples was reduced in smokers who switched to tobacco heating products.

Tobacco heating product


Research carried out in Japan has found that smokers who switch completely to tobacco heating products had significantly reduced exposure to numerous smoke toxicants

When smokers switch completely from cigarettes to tobacco heating products (THPs), their exposure to certain cigarette smoke toxicants is significantly reduced, a clinical study conducted by British American Tobacco (BAT) has found[1].

The study — conducted in Japan where THPs are popular — comprised 180 healthy smokers and was carried out in a clinic over a period of eight days. All participants were smokers for at least three years prior to the study.

For the first two days of the study, participants continued to smoke as normal, and samples of their urine, blood and exhaled breath was collected to measure biomarkers of exposure.

For the five days after that, participants were randomly assigned to continue smoking, switch to a THP or stop smoking altogether. Again, samples were collected for analysis.

The results showed that the concentration of certain cigarette smoke toxicants in urine samples was reduced in smokers in the group who switched to THP. In some cases these reductions were not significantly different from those seen in the group who stopped smoking.

“These results are very encouraging,” said James Murphy, head of reduced risk substantiation at BAT.

“The next step will be to determine whether this reduction in exposure translates to a reduced biological effect, and in turn, a reduction in adverse health effects for those smokers who switch completely to THP,” he added.

As explained by the authors, who presented the research at the annual conference of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco in Baltimore, Maryland (21–24 February 2018), THPs are designed to heat rather than burn tobacco meaning that they do not produce smoke and the toxicants associated with tobacco combustion are substantially reduced.

They concluded that the results suggest that THPs have the potential to substantially reduce exposure compared with smoking conventional cigarettes.

On 27 February 2018, Chris Proctor, chief scientific officer at BAT, along with representatives from three other tobacco companies, gave evidence to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, as part of its inquiry into e-cigarettes.

He focused specifically on the need for policy makers to maximise the potential of smokeless products — such as e-cigarettes and THPs — as providing an alternative to smoking tobacco.

Proctor told MPs of three key elements required for the growth of these products: a need for a broad range of products; ensuring appropriate regulation; and a greater focus on product standards and quality.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20204480

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