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What are the differences between traditional cigarettes, vapes and heat not burn devices, which one is the least harmful

by Martin Smith
First of all, let's take a look at the differences between traditional cigarettes, vapes or e-cigarettes, and Heat Not Burn devices

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Heat Not Burn is abbreviated as HNB device. As the name implies, it is a tobacco-heated product. Usually, a battery-powered heating system is used to heat the ingredients in a special tobacco stick or heatstick at 250-350°C (lower than 600°C of traditional cigarettes). Heat the ingredients in the heatstick just enough to give off a fragrance and a tobacco-like smell, and at the same time, in a non-combustible state below 350 degrees, so that it does not undergo a violent oxidation reaction, thereby avoiding the production of some harmful substances in traditional cigarettes, heat not burn device can produce or even not produce nicotine, which is mainly determined by whether there is nicotine in the heatstick, no tar, no soot, no open flame, no second-hand smoke hazard.

It is no exaggeration to say that this technology basically shields 90% of harmful substances produced during combustion.

Vape products are driven by batteries, heating the e-liquid to turn the liquid into vapor, so as to obtain the same smoke effect as traditional smoke. The heating temperature is generally around 200°C, so that the evaporated smoke does not contain tar, carbon monoxide, and hundreds of carcinogens and heavy metals including mercury and lead, and only purified nicotine (commonly known as nicotine), so it can reduce a large number of harmful substances.

So which one is more harmful, cigarettes, vapes, or Heat Not Burn device?

In fact, relevant experiments have been done a long time ago. IQOS is a typical representative of HNB devices. PMI, which produces IQOS, made a simple comparison between THP (Tobacco Heated Products) and vaping. Everyone should have a perceptual understanding first.

Not surprisingly, IQOS must also have potential risks to the human body. For example, in the study mentioned in this document, the author compared similar nicotine delivery in vitro and compared the toxicity of IQOS with the same flavor to traditional cigarettes and electronic cigarettes on human bronchial epithelial cells. The cytotoxicity of IOQS was found to be significantly higher than that of e-cigarettes but lower than that of conventional cigarettes. This independent study was actually very detrimental to the application submitted by PMI to the FDA at that time since it explained that it could reduce the risk when PMI promoted IQOS, and the risk reduction was compared to similar tobacco products on the market at that time, among which it must include e-cigarettes that have been sold in the US market before PMI submitted the application. Of course, this study shows that IQOS is riskier than e-cigarette products.

Subsequently, the same research team compared the levels of carcinogen nitrosamines in the three products, and found that the unit yield of nitrosamines in the smoke of IQOS was an order of magnitude lower than that of traditional flue-cured tobacco, but compared with e-cigarettes, it was an order of magnitude lower. , which further illustrates the relationship between these three products in terms of the risk of nitrosamines.

Another research group also compared the release of carbonyls in smoke from the three products. The conclusion also shows that IQOS emits significantly fewer carbonyl compounds than traditional cigarettes, but higher than e-cigarettes.

Another group compared the three products comprehensively in several ways. They concluded that while iQOS emits far less of most toxic compounds than conventional cigarettes, it is still not without risk though. They also found that it seems that IQOS emits less toxic heavy metals by comparing with traditional cigarettes and electronic cigarettes. Meanwhile, they also detected a statistically significant amount of various organic compounds including n-paraffins, organic acids, and aldehydes such as formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and acrolein in the emissions of iQOS, although the emissions were lower than those of conventional cigarettes, they consider that in an environment without product standards, IQOS should still be used with caution.

So in general, compared with cigarettes and heat not burn devices, the health risks associated with vape use will be smaller and heat not burn devices are less harmful than cigarettes.


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