25 October 2017
Scientists at British American Tobacco have conducted a series of tests, the results of which help establish glo™ as having the potential to be substantially reduced risk compared to traditional cigarettes.
glo™ is a commercial tobacco-heating product. It heats rather than burns tobacco and so does not produce smoke or the smoke toxicants found in conventional cigarette smoke.
Using data from chemical and biological tests, scientists ranked glo™, in terms of number and levels of toxicants in the vapour and biological impact on human and other cells compared to smoke.
The results show that there is a wide gap between glo™ and other next generation products tested and conventional cigarettes. glo™ and other NGPs have substantially reduced numbers and levels of toxicants in the vapour compared to smoke and the vapour has a much-reduced or no biological impact on cells* in the laboratory compared to smoke, depending on the test.
This means that when ranked according to potential harm, cigarettes are at one end of a potential risk spectrum and glo™ and other NGPs are at the other end (potentially substantially reduced risk), although longer-term studies would be required to substantiate this potential.
How the Tests were done
Seven products were assessed, including three cigarettes, glo™ and another THP, a hybrid tobacco product and an e-cigarette.
Scientists studied how consumers’ used their products and used the information to programme puffing robots in the lab. In this way, the puffing robots could produce smoke and vapour in a realistic way. The smoke and vapour produced was then tested for toxicants known to be present in NGP emissions and cigarette smoke.
The results reveal the vapour, produced by glo™, to have a relatively simple composition compared to cigarette smoke (Figures 1 and 2). Toxicant levels in glo™ vapour were reduced by about 90% compared to smoke. Similar reductions were observed for vapour produced by an e-cigarette, another THP and a hybrid THP.
The puffing robots were used also used in combination with special exposure systems to test the impact of the smoke or vapour on cells in the lab.
The cells tested include human airway cells. These are obtained by taking a sample from a human nose. The cells are placed in a chamber that allows them to be nourished from the underside and exposed to air or vapour or smoke on the other side – much like cells are exposure to aerosols in the lung. In other tests, bacterial cells are used to determine whether smoke or vapour causes mutations in DNA – the cell’s genetic material.
The results show that, in contrast to cigarette smoke, the emissions from glo™ and the other novel products tested are not toxic to human airway cells and do not cause mutations or promote the development of tumours (Figure 3). In many cases, the results were similar to those obtained when cells were simply exposed to air.
Potential Reduced Harm
On the basis of product emissions, there is a wide gap between what is in smoke and what is in the vapour produced by NGPs. There is also a wide gap between the biological impact on cells in the lab between smoke and vapour from glo™ and the other NGPs. glo™ and the NGPs tested produced either no response or a substantially reduced response compared to cigarette smoke.
‘Although more long-term tests are needed, taken together these results suggest the cigarettes are at the opposite end of a potential risk spectrum to glo™ and other NGPs like e-cigarettes,’ said Dr James Murphy, Head of Reduced Risk Substantiation at British American Tobacco.
Public Health England has stated that ‘The wider body of evidence consistently finds that [e-cigarettes] are less harmful than smoking and that the ‘current best estimate is that [e-cigarettes] are around 95% less harmful than smoking (Figure 4).
British American Tobacco have invested more than US$1.5 billion over six years in developing a world-leading portfolio of products in the Next Generation Products (NGPs) category. British American Tobacco has NGPs in 15 markets, including, glo™ which is available in Japan, Korea, Switzerland, Canada and Russia.
These results are published today in a special issue of the Journal Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology.
Figure 1. Filter pads with glo™ aerosol (top) and smoke from a reference cigarette (bottom).
Figure 2. Chromatographic analysis of cigarette smoke and e-cigarette aerosol
Figure 3. Comparison of NGP responses in pre-clinical assessment studies compared to a scientific reference cigarette
Figure 4. Potential Risk Spectrum
Notes to Editors