Literature review | Aerosol Chemistry | Nov 14, 2019

      Analyzing our aerosol

      What separates our Products’ aerosols from cigarette smoke?



      Why our aerosol isn't smoke

      The clouds created from our products during use are aerosols that are not smoke, even though they are sometimes wrongly referred to as smoke. There’s often confusion when it comes to differentiating between aerosols that are smoke, and those that aren’t. While smoke is an aerosol, not all aerosols are smoke.

      What distinguishes smoke from the aerosols created by our products during use? Smoke is an aerosol containing both liquid and solid particles and is generally formed and emitted during combustion. In a lit cigarette, the tobacco burns at temperatures reaching above 800°C generating smoke. Our portfolio of smoke-free products do not burn tobacco, and produce aerosols that are not smoke; either by heating tobacco (THS), using a nicotine salt (Nicotine Salts Product or NSP), or by heating a nicotine-containing liquid (MESH Vaping System or MVS).

      Why does this matter? Because during the burning of the tobacco, most of the harmful and potentially harmful constituents (HPHCs) found in cigarette smoke are released, and carbon-based solid particles are generated that can adversely affect your health when inhaled. While not being risk-free, our smoke-free products, which avoid combustion, have the potential to be less harmful alternatives for smokers who won’t quit.


      What's in our aerosol?

      These are two laboratory filter pads. The left shows collected cigarette smoke, while the right shows collected THS aerosol. Learn more about how these were created from our Aerosol Demo.

      Emphasizing the differences between cigarette smoke and the aerosols generated by our products may seem like semantics, but there are scientifically substantiated differences between them that goes beyond wording.

      We created an assessment program to track the scientific developments of all our products, and this program includes testing the composition of our aerosols. Our findings show how our aerosols are compositionally different from cigarette smoke.

      The steps of the smoke-free product assessment program

      A series of studies compared the composition of THS aerosol against cigarette smoke, covering 54 HPHCs. THS aerosol produced an average of 90-95% lower HPHC levels, compared to cigarette smoke.

      To investigate whether or not carbon-based solid particles are present in our THS aerosol, we collected and analyzed mainstream smoke from a cigarette as well as the mainstream aerosol from THS. Scanning electron microscopy confirmed the absence of carbon-based solid particles in our THS aerosol, whereas over 1 trillion solid particles were detected in cigarette smoke.


      What does our aerosol do?

      Determining what is and isn’t in our aerosol only makes up a part of what we investigate. Knowing how the aerosols might affect the body and environment are also vital pieces of information. We’ve collected a few interesting findings and facts across most of our assessment program:

      • Indoor air quality assessment: We tested the air quality in several simulated environments during THS use or cigarette smoking. In relation to the environmental tobacco smoke emitted during smoking, THS use showed a vast reduction of the levels of the airborne chemicals measured, even matching background levels in many cases.
      • Toxicological assessment: Lower levels of HPHCs in the aerosol of THS should lead to reduced toxicity, but it's important to quantify. When investigating the toxicity, we found that the mutagentic and cytotoxic effects of the THS aerosol were reduced by more than 90% compared to cigarette smoke.
      • Clinical assessment: Logically, lower levels of HPHCs in the aerosol should lead to reduced exposure for the user and a reduced biological response, but there are actually many factors. Our exposure response study followed over 900 adult smokers who either continued smoking or switched to using THS for six months. We measured eight biomarkers known to improve upon smoking cessation within this time, corresponding to illnesses such as cancer, respiratory disease, and cardiovascular disease. Our results showed that all eight biomarkers improved in those who switched to THS, with five of the eight showing statistical significance.

      We’re always actively working on all of our products, constantly researching and testing everything from early development to post-launch and beyond. Our library contains almost 1000 publications, including research papers, conference posters and presentations, and more. To dig into more information, search through our library here.