Introduction: IQOS HEETS are promoted as reduced risk alternatives to cigarettes. Although some studies have investigated the chemical composition of HEETS emissions, little is known on whether toxicant levels in such emissions are affected by different puffing parameters and flavor varieties. This has important implications when assessing actual human exposure, since IQOS users develop a specific and personalized puffing behavior and may use different HEETS variants.
Methods: This study measured the levels of nicotine, Total Particulate Matter (TPM), carbonyl compounds and tobacco-Specific Nitrosamines (TSNAs) in the emissions of nine differently flavored HEETS and two cigarettes (1R6F and Marlboro Red, MR). Emissions from Yellow HEETS, 1R6F and MR were collected using the World Health Organization Intense (WHOI) smoking regime and four more intense smoking regimes.
Results: Yellow HEETS aerosol contained lower levels of toxicants compared to 1R6F and MR smoke. More intense smoking regimes increased carbonyls release in cigarette smoke, whereas only higher puff frequency led to lower levels of toxicants in Yellow HEETS aerosol. Some HEETS varieties exhibited higher levels of formaldehyde and TSNAs in their aerosol compared to Yellow HEETS.
Conclusions: Puff frequency was identified as the only smoking parameter that significantly lowered the release of almost all toxicants in Yellow HEETS, whereas a combination of higher puff volume and puff duration led to increased levels of some carbonyls. Differences in toxicants levels between various commercially-available HEETS have important implications when assessing their health impact, as their consumption might induce different toxicant exposure and health effects.
Implications: HEETS release about half as much nicotine and substantially lower levels of toxicants compared to cigarettes. Literature data showed that puffing intensity is increased in cigarette smokers switching to HEETS, maybe in reaction to these lower nicotine levels. Our results show a differential impact of increased puff frequency, puff duration and puff volume in the release of toxicants from HEETS. Thus, industry-independent studies on puff topography are critical to make choices for the most relevant puffing regime for HTP regulation. Regulators should consider evaluating the health impact of multiple HEETS varieties, as the tobacco filler composition significantly affects the release of certain toxicants.
Keywords: IQOS HEETS; TPM; carbonyls; cigarettes; nicotine; puff frequency; smoking regime; tobacco-specific nitrosamines.
© The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco.