Understanding the comparative risks of our products
Tobacco Harm Reduction and reduced-risk products*
Why are certain tobacco and nicotine products a reduced risk alternative to conventional cigarettes?
We’ve long been clear about the fact that conventional cigarettes pose serious health risks and the only way to avoid those risks is not to use them.
It is now widely acknowledged that most of the harm associated with smoking is down to the toxicants in the smoke produced when the tobacco in the cigarette is burned.
So, products that don’t burn tobacco produce fewer and lower levels of toxicants compared with conventional cigarettes.
Tobacco harm reduction
Tobacco harm reduction is a public health strategy to minimise the negative health impact of conventional cigarettes. It recognises the important role that alternative sources of nicotine with lower health risks offer to smokers who may not otherwise want or choose to give up. We’re clear that we are shifting towards a reduced-risk*† portfolio, built on outstanding products, informed consumer choice, and underpinned by world-class science.
There is growing consensus among many members of the public health community and academics about the role of vapour products as a reduced-risk*† alternative to smoking. This is supported by a wealth of other evidence reviews, studies and reports throughout the world1. In the UK, for example, Public Health England has published a series of expert reviews of the latest evidence, drawing on peer-reviewed literature, surveys and other reports, concluding: “based on current knowledge, vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking”.
Tobacco heating products (THPs)
By heating tobacco rather than burning, THPs have the potential to be reduced risk* compared to smoking. Although most research has been conducted by the industry, an increasing number of independent reports are broadly aligned with our findings and support the role of THPs as a less risky* alternative. For example, a study commissioned by the UK Department of Health in 2017 found that people using THPs were exposed to around 50–90% less of the “harmful and potentially harmful” compounds compared with conventional cigarettes2.
In 2018, Public Health England, while highlighting the need for more research, found that “compared with cigarettes, heated tobacco products are likely to expose users and bystanders to lower levels of particulate matter, and harmful and potentially harmful compounds3.” More long-term studies are needed which is why we launched our year-long clinical study to evaluate the reduced-risk potential of glo, our flagship THP. The six-month data show that smokers who switched exclusively to glo significantly reduced their exposure to some of the most harmful cigarette smoke toxicants, some to a level found in participants who had stopped smoking entirely4.
Modern Oral Products
A wealth of epidemiological evidence from Sweden over many decades shows that use of snus, a type of traditional oral tobacco, is substantially less risky than smoking. This has been confirmed by the US FDA which, in 2019, formally recognised that switching completely from cigarettes to a snus product can lower the risks of mouth cancer, heart disease, lung cancer, stroke, emphysema and chronic bronchitis5. Our own research has shown that our Modern Oral Products have even fewer and lower levels of toxicants than observed in snus, and toxicological studies have shown that modern oral products have even lower impact on human cells than snus6. ** We are confident that further research will support our belief that consumers of modern oral products will be exposed to even fewer toxicants than snus users and modern oral products can be expected to present lower risk than continued cigarette smoking.
* Based on the weight of evidence and assuming a complete switch from cigarette smoking. These products are not risk free and are addictive.
† Our products as sold in the US, including Vuse, Velo, Grizzly, Kodiak, and Camel Snus, are subject to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation and no reduced-risk claims will be made as to these products without FDA clearance.
**Comparison based on an assessment of smoke from a scientific standard reference cigarette (approximately 9 mg tar) and components released during use of a commercial snus (tobacco) pouch and a Velo (nicotine) pouch, in terms of the average of the nine harmful components WHO recommends to reduce in cigarette smoke.
1. House of Commons. Science and technology – seventh report. March 6. 2005. https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200405/ cmselect/cmsctech/96/9602.htm.
2. Committees on Toxicity, Carcinogenicity and Mutagenicity of Chemicals in Food, CONSUMER Products and the Environment (COT, COC and COM). Statement on the toxicological evaluation of novel heat-not-burn tobacco products. December, 2017.
https:// cot.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/heat_not_burn_tobacco_ statement.pdf.
3. McNeill A, Brose LS, Calder R, Bauld L, Robson D. Evidence review of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products 2018. A report commissioned by Public Health England. London: Public Health England, 2018.
4. Gale N, McEwan M, Camacho OM, et al (2020). Changes in biomarkers of exposure on switching from a conventional cigarette to the glo tobacco heating product: a randomized, controlled ambulatory study. Nicotine Tob Res 2021; 16: 584-591. https://doi.org/10.1093/ntr/ntaa135.
5. US Food and Drug Administration. FDA grants first-ever modified risk orders to eight smokeless tobacco products. October 22, 2019. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fdagrants-first-ever-modified-risk-orders-eight-smokeless-tobaccoproducts.
6. Bishop E, East N, Bozhilova S, et al. An approach for the extract generation and toxicological assessment of tobacco-free ‘modern’ oral nicotine pouches. Food Chem Toxicol 2020; 145: 111713. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fct.2020.111713