Heated tobacco products, frequently referred to as HTBs or HNBs, are widely regarded as being a good alternative to combustible tobacco for those who don’t get along with other alternative nicotine products. Now a tobacco company funded study says that HTBs do not negatively affect the quality of sampled indoor air.

HTPs are electronic devices that heat instead of burning a tobacco plug. While a cigarette burns at around 800 degrees centigrade, the heated product achieves a much lower temperature thanks in part to the tobacco being soaked in PG (one of the constituents of eliquid). Evidence has shown that although levels of toxins are above that for vapour, it is still much reduced from that found in cigarette smoke and therefore use offers reduced harm to smoking. This reduced level of harm was recognised in the United States recently when the FDA authorised the marketing of Philip Morris Products’ IQOS product.

Researchers looked a number of studies published in peer review journals to determine what the impact on air quality would be when using an HTP.

The quoted one study from Lithuania’s Kaunas University of Technology: “In the controlled environment, the use of THS [as well as an electronic cigarette] resulted in the lowest concentrations of formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, PM2.5 among majority researched pollution sources [conventional cigarettes, waterpipe, incense, mosquito coils].

Such data indicate that the levels of the main indoor air pollution markers in case of THS environmental aerosol may be too low to distinguish from the background, thus raising additional challenges for epidemiological studies aiming at the assessments of second-hand exposure in real-life environments.”

They also cited a study conducted by British American Tobacco, that also pointed to an appreciable reduction in particulate contamination leading to a much-reduced effect on air quality indoors.

Next, they cited a study conducted by the Ministry of Health of Ukraine which found a total absence of contaminants, including nicotine. “Contrary to conventional cigarettes, the actual content of the air safety indicators in indoor air during and after consumption of electrically heated tobacco system by no means exceeded the threshold limit value for atmospheric air,” they wrote.

Lead author, Philip Morris’ Dr Maya Mitova, said: “The quantified concentrations of the three airborne compounds during indoor use in the high-load-simulated residential environment studies were below the harmful levels defined by cognizant authorities. Thus, normal hygienic measures, such as regular aeration of the residential spaces, would lead to efficient control of these low to negligible levels of pollution.”

In conclusion, the use in an indoor environment, where norms for indoor exposure in terms of adequate ventilation are respected, does not adversely affect the overall indoor air quality.”

While some in the vaping community still have issues with tobacco company products, heat not burn products continue to appear to offer a viable route away from smoking from a tobacco harm reduction perspective

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