A new e-cig uses solid tobacco. Getty Images
“Heat-not-burn” tobacco products are already incredibly popular in some overseas markets, but they haven’t made inroads into the United States yet.
in a similar fashion to e-cigarettes as a safer alternative to
traditional smoking, public health experts worry that “heat-not-burn”
products could be the next big phase for the tobacco industry.
of their novelty, there is little scientific research on these devices
about their safety and usefulness for smoking cessation.
But in a damning new study, researchers say they aren’t any better for you than either traditional cigarettes or e-cigarettes.
What the study found
The paper, published this week in the journal ERJ Open Research, looked at the in vitro effects of vapor produced by IQOS devices (IQOS is the brand name of a “heat-not-burn” tobacco product by Philip Morris International, an American tobacco company) on human cells found in the lungs and airways.
Researchers exposed bronchial
epithelial cells and primary human airway smooth muscle cells to IQOS
vapor and directly compared what they saw to the effects of cigarette
smoke and e-cigarette vapor.
All three were found to be
toxic to lung cells, with the IQOS device’s vapor having a comparable
toxicity to traditional smoking.
“We observed different levels of cellular toxicity with all forms of exposures in human lung cells. What came out clearly was that the newer products were in no way less toxic to cells than conventional cigarettes or e-cigarette vaping,” said Sukhwinder Sohal, PhD, one of the authors of the study and a health sciences researcher at University of Tasmania’s Respiratory Translational Research Group.
study concludes that IQOS devices, like cigarettes and e-cigarettes,
have the potential to lead to inflammation, oxidative stress, and other
deleterious effects on the lungs and airways. Over the long term, this
can lead to serious health problems typically seen in smokers, including
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer.
authors say that their study is an important first step in
understanding the potential harm of “heat-not-burn” tobacco products.