Objective: To evaluate performance of the I quit original smoking (iQOS) heat-not-burn system as a function of cleaning and puffing topography, investigate the validity of manufacturer's claims that this device does not burn tobacco and determine if the polymer-film filter is potentially harmful.
Methods: iQOS performance was evaluated using five running conditions incorporating two different cleaning protocols. Heatsticks were visually and stereomicroscopically inspected preuse and postuse to determine the extent of tobacco plug charring (from pyrolysis) and polymer-film filter melting, and to elucidate the effects of cleaning on charring. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry headspace analysis was conducted on unused polymer-film filters to determine if potentially toxic chemicals are emitted from the filter during heating.
Results: For all testing protocols, pressure drop decreased as puff number increased. Changes in testing protocols did not affect aerosol density. Charring due to pyrolysis (a form of organic matter thermochemical decomposition) was observed in the tobacco plug after use. When the manufacturer's cleaning instructions were followed, both charring of the tobacco plug and melting of the polymer-film filter increased. Headspace analysis of the polymer-film filter revealed the release of formaldehyde cyanohydrin at 90°C, which is well below the maximum temperature reached during normal usage.
Discussion: Device usage limitations may contribute to decreases in interpuff intervals, potentially increasing user's intake of nicotine and other harmful chemicals. This study found that the tobacco plug does char and that charring increases when the device is not cleaned between heatsticks. Release of formaldehyde cyanohydrin is a concern as it is highly toxic at very low concentrations.
Keywords: ENDS; char; electronic nicotine delivery devices; heat-not-burn tobacco products; new tobacco products; nicotine; pyrolysis; quality control.
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