New study questions safety of ‘smokeless’ cigarettes

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A new study has revealed that ‘smokeless’ cigarettes that heat tobacco instead of burning it contain more cancer-causing chemicals than traditional ones despite being promoted as safer.

Cigarette producer Philip Morris claims that its IQOS device, into which tobacco sticks can be placed to be heated, contains 90 percent less toxins. Researchers found that smoke from the IQOS device carries 84 percent of the nicotine found in traditional cigarettes.

Smoke from the IQOS was also found to contain more carcinogenic chemicals in much higher concentrations than traditional tobacco smoke, including carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

According to Swiss researchers who conducted the study which was published in JAMA Internal Medicine, “there is no safe minimum limit” for some of the unsafe chemicals.

Based on the findings, the authors contend that “smokeless” products should be subject to the same indoor smoking bans applied to traditional cigarettes, protecting non-smokers from fumes.

Lead author Dr. Reto Auer of the University of Bern contends that not enough is known about the “smokeless” cigarettes and restrictions should be placed on their use until more information is gleaned.

“’We need more studies to find out about the health consequences. Some of these chemicals may contribute to the high mortality rate of smokers,” Auer said, adding that, “Harmful chemicals were present in IQOS smoke, though in lower concentrations, on average. We need to conduct more studies to find out whether IQOS are safer for users or bystanders.”

A spokesperson for Philip Morris International stated, “We welcome independent research on our smoke-free products.”

The spokesperson adds:

“We are surprised by some of the study methodologies and conclusions. Our research as well as studies conducted to date by a number of independent experts prove that IQOS used with HEETS does not generate combustion or smoke. There can of course be disagreement in science. We are open to discuss differences, and believe this is best achieved by comparing methodologies and discussing results.”


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