PMI's first online poster session and live Q&A

      First Open Science event by PMI Science

      Our first Open Science event was held June 15, 2020. It was organized in part because our scientists had planned to present several posters at the Global Forum on Nicotine (GFN), but due to the need for social distancing, the conference moved online and the poster sessions were canceled. We felt that it was important to find a way to share the posters we had already prepared with the scientific community, and so our Open Science series was born.

      Dr. Gizelle Baker, Director Global Scientific Engagement, lead the webinar and introduced five presentations that were pre-recorded by our scientists specifically for this event. After the presentations, Dr. Baker and other scientists answered questions live from the audience. In total, the one-hour webinar was hosted three times to accommodate multiple time zones. Over 1,000 participants registered for the event from 50 countries.

      Although we hosted our own poster session, our Vice President Strategic and Scientific Communications Dr. Moira Gilchrist also presented at GFN, providing an overview of our research program and highlighting independent research on our leading heated tobacco product. You can learn more about her presentation and find references for the information Dr. Gilchrist discussed at GFN.

      Watch our scientists discuss their posters:

      Q&A from Open Science, June 2020

      Here are some of the most asked questions from the audience for our June Open Science session, along with our answers to those questions from the sessions.

      We are developing a range of smoke-free products and currently they all contain nicotine. We know that nicotine is one of the key elements that people smoke for, and therefore if we want to get people to completely stop smoking cigarettes and switch to these products, then products that contain nicotine may replicate more of the ritual and social experience that together form the reasons why people continue to smoke.

      Therefore, products that contain nicotine can help maximize the number of people who completely stop smoking altogether and switch to these products. Therefore, currently we do not have any products in our development portfolio that do not contain nicotine.

      Cancer takes a long time to develop and most of the people switching to smoke-free products have years of smoking history before switching. So, we’re not able to measure cancer and the impacts directly on cancer yet, but we are able to look at things like, the levels of exposure to carcinogens.

      What we see is that on average, the levels of carcinogens that are emitted from THS and therefore are available for exposure are reduced by over 93% for people who switch completely. And there are a couple of studies that have come out, one by Stephens back in 2017, but also one from Slob more recently, in May 2020.

      It was conducted by a team of researchers from the RIVM in the Netherlands, their health organization, and they are modeling the reductions in emissions of carcinogens to reductions in exposures and modeling what it would mean for lifetime cancer risk.

      In the paper they concluded that the exposures to carcinogens were 10- to 25-fold lower in THS compared to continuing to smoke cigarettes. And then if you take it one step further, they conclude that this will result in a significant reduction in the shortened life expectancy that you see for smokers.

      Overall, they concluded that the reduction in life expectancy is largest in the group smoking, that you would see a substantial increase in life expectancy for people who stop smoking and switch to THS compared to those who continue smoking. They further conclude that the biggest increase in life expectancy compared to continued smoking would be seen if you quit smoking altogether, because obviously that is the best choice.

      There are quite a few studies out there; independent studies are being published every day looking at smoke-free products such as heated tobacco products and e-cigarettes. One of the biggest differences we see in the conclusion is what you compare against. These products, smoke-free products, are for adult smokers who would otherwise continue to smoke cigarettes. Cigarette smokers would be exposed to high levels of toxicants multiple times a day, every day for decades more if they didn’t switch to these products. This is why continued smoking is important to compare against.

      But some researchers use fresh air or cessation for their comparison, and it completely changes the interpretation of the results. It is comparing to what would happen if a smoker quit altogether. Certainly, quitting smoking is the best option for anyone who smokes cigarettes. People who smoke should be encouraged to quit, because that’s going to have the best outcome on health.

      But our products are for adult smokers who would otherwise continue to smoke, and making different comparisons leads to a big difference in your conclusions, because these products are not without risk. They do have some, although much lower levels of toxicants that they continue to expose people to, so therefore it is definitely better to quit altogether. But for those who will continue to smoke, these are definitely a better alternative. And that’s usually a large proportion of the studies. You can also look at different methodologies or over-reaching of conclusions. Studies looking at associations sometimes make statements about causality for example, but the majority of the difference comes down to the comparisons that are made.