eLetters

440 e-Letters

  • Evidence of the absence of hepatotoxicity of IQOS

    NOT PEER REVIEWED
    More than 1,000 participants were exposed to IQOS in our clinical studies. The authors of the letter “Possible hepatotoxicity of IQOS" based their analysis on approximatively 10% of the data instead of examining the data as a whole. For example, for the five-day exposure studies in confinement, they stated that the percentage of participants with elevated bilirubin in IQOS arm was more than three times higher than that observed in the smoking abstinence (SA) arm in the European study (8.8% [7 participants] in IQOS arm, 2.6% [1 participant] in SA arm). However, they missed reporting that this percentage was lower in the IQOS arm than in the cigarette smoking (CC) arm in the Japanese study (10% [8 participants] in IQOS arm, 15% [6 participants] in CC arm). They also stated that the mean increase in alanine aminotransferase (ALT) was higher with IQOS than with CC or SA in the Japanese study but did not report that in the European study, the mean increase in ALT was lower in the IQOS arm than in the CC or SA arm.
    Similarly, for the 90-day exposure studies in an ambulatory setting, they mentioned that the percentage of participants with increased ALT levels after 60 days of exposure was higher within the IQOS arm (6.3% [5 participants] in IQOS arm, 0% in CC arm, 2.6% [1 participant] in SA arm) in the U.S. study. However they omitted to mention that in the Japanese study, this percentage was lower in IQOS arm compared with CC or SA arms after 3...

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  • Clarification regarding FDA authorities relating to modified risk claims

    NOT PEER REVIEWED
    This study has some important findings that could, if replicated, guide FDA decision making on applications from manufacturers to make modified risk tobacco product claims. However, while it does not detract from the study’s findings, the article does not accurately describe the standards FDA must apply when evaluating those applications. The abstract inaccurately suggests that tobacco products in the U.S. may make reduced-risk or reduced-exposure claims so long as they are not misleading, and does not mention that any explicit or implicit reduced-exposure or reduced-risk claims may not be legally made without first submitting an application to FDA and receiving a permissive order, which considers various other factors, as well.

    The introduction of the paper does a bit better, accurately stating that the Tobacco Control Act requires prior review by FDA before making lower-exposure or lower-risk claims. But it then suggests that manufacturers can receive that permission if they either demonstrate that the product lowers harm or risk compared with other tobacco products or if they demonstrate that the product is free of or contains reduced levels of harmful chemicals and the related claims don’t mislead consumers to believe that the reduced-exposure means lower risk. While that description is accurate as far as it goes, it leaves off the enormously important requirement, in both cases, that a manufacturer’s application for permission to...

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  • Biomarkers of harm -- not exposure -- are key to reduced risk claims

    NOT PEER REVIEWED

    The "serious criticism" that Mr. Bates refers to is from him (on another website).

    In order for the FDA to issue an order allowing Philip Morris International to market IQOS in the United States as a reduced risk tobacco product, the law required that, among other things, FDA "determines that the applicant [PMI] has demonstrated that such product [IQOS], as it is actually used by consumers will significantly reduce harm and the risk of tobacco- related disease to individual tobacco users."

    That is why PMI provided the information of biomarkers of potential harm to the FDA. and how they compare to values observed in smokers. My paper shows that, using PMI's own data, IQOS will not significantly reduce risk to consumers compared with cigarettes.

    Bates ignores this reality and instead talks about biomarkers of exposure, which is a different question.

  • This study has already been severely criticised

    NOT PEER REVIEWED The main problem with the claim of equivalence between smoking and switching to iQOS is that some biomarkers of potential harm change over a much longer timeframe than the 90-day duration of the trials. Biomarkers of potential harm can reflect years of accumulated physical changes arising from smoking and only improve slowly after smoking cessation. The trial did, of course, pick up very substantial reductions in biomarkers of exposure, which would, over time, emerge as reductions in biomarkers of potential harm.
    This would have been apparent and obvious to readers if the paper had also shown the results for the third arm of the trial, smoking abstinence. The biomarkers of potential harm for smoking abstinence and for switching to iQOS are quite similar in this trial. This is a curious omission. Furthermore, biomarkers of exposure turned quite similar for both switching to iQOS and smoking abstinence - both are greatly reduced, which is an encouraging finding about the iQOS product.
    It is unlikely that anyone would argue against smoking abstinence on the basis of the biomarkers of potential harm in the original PMI study. However, the author has selectively used the iQOS data from these trials without the context of the smoking abstinence data to oppose the Modified Tobacco Product Application that PMI made to the U.S. FDA - the author's attempt to block this reduced-risk product from entering the US market.
    ...

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  • Experimental demonstration of the absence of formaldehyde cyanohydrin emission from PLA using a reference standard

    NOT PEER REVIEWED
    The potential presence of formaldehyde cyanohydrin in the polylactic acid (PLA) filter of Marlboro Heatstick when heated was reported by Davis and al. PLA is a biodegradable thermoplastic derived from renewable resources such as corn starch. This tentative identification is based on the GC-MS analysis of the headspace of a heated piece of PLA, and the subsequent compound identification by mass spectra matching (acceptance criteria >85%) with the spectra library of the National Institute of Standard and Technology (NIST). However, this was not confirmed by injecting a purchased analytical grade reference standard, in order to unambiguously prove the presence of formaldehyde cyanohydrin. Therefore, we decided to repeat the experiment using headspace injection gas chromatography coupled to high resolution mass spectrometry under similar conditions as described in the publication. Our headspace GC-HR-MS analyses showed four peaks, at retention times of 16.38, 16.47, 17.14, and 18.58 min, in good agreement with the reported data reported (figure 4).

    From the analysis of reference standards, we have confirmed the presence of both e-caprolactone (CAS# 502-44-3) and (S,S)-lactide (CAS# 4511-42-6) eluting at 16.47 and 17.14 min, respectively. We identified triacetin (CAS# 102-76-1) at 18.58 min, based on the reference standard, instead of 1,2-diacetin (their EI mass spectra are very similar).
    However, we have demonstrated unambiguously the a...

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  • Transparent and open approach

    NOT PEER REVIEWED
    Euromonitor International is a privately held, independent provider of strategic market research with no agenda other than to present the most realistic illicit trade data impartially and within its wider industry context. Subscribers to Euromonitor’s Passport Tobacco database are varied and include tobacco control/ public health groups, academia, retailers, manufacturers of raw materials as well as tobacco brand owners and banks/ consultancies, amongst others.

    These same stakeholders are approached by Euromonitor for comment on industry trends, including those of illicit sales. Euromonitor’s stated sources for illicit cigarettes sales thus include trade press, customs offices, interviews with manufacturers and retailers, government and academic organisations. This is reconciled against local knowledge of the market and illicit trade’s wider context – eg national economic performance, trends in taxation, unit prices and duty paid sales, porosity of borders, law enforcement efforts, and so on. There is no reliance on any one source.

    By its very nature, illicit trade in tobacco products is a contentious area and one that is difficult to quantify – there are often wide discrepancies between various sources on illicit trade, reflecting vested interests in either deflating or inflating figures. In these circumstances, Euromonitor strives to present the most widely accepted and realistic estimate of the illicit market, based on a holistic...

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  • The missing elephant in the room of vaping transition

    NOT PEER REVIEWED
    Coleman et al’s important report [1] on transitions in the vaping and smoking status of a nationally representative cohort of American 18+ adults who use electronic cigarettes (EC) from the PATH study provides rich data that can greatly advance our understanding of the natural history of EC use and their potential in harm reduction.

    However, we were struck by the absence of emphasis in the report of what is perhaps its most important finding. If we examine the report’s data and consider the net impact of vaping on the critical goals of having vapers stopping smoking and vaping non-smokers not starting to smoke, the findings are very disturbing and should strong reason for pause among those advocating e-cigarettes as a game-changing way of stopping smoking.

    At Wave 2, 12 months on from Wave 1, of the cohort of 2036 dual users (EC + smoking) only 104 (5.1%) had transitioned to using only EC and another 143 (7%) had quit both EC and smoking for a combined total of 247 or 12.1%. Of the 896 exclusive EC users at Wave 1, 277 (30.9%) had stopped vaping at Wave 2. Together, 524 out of the 2932 EC users (17.9%) followed from Wave 1 might be considered to have had positive outcomes at Wave 2.

    The other side of the coin however, shows that of the 2036 dual users at Wave 1, 886 (43.5%) relapsed to using cigarettes exclusively. In addition, among the 896 exclusive EC users from Wave 1, 109 (12.2%) had stopped vaping and were now smoking, wit...

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  • Experimental demonstration of the absence of formaldehyde cyanohydrin emission from PLA using a reference standard

    NOT PEER REVIEWED
    The potential presence of formaldehyde cyanohydrin in the polylactic acid (PLA) filter of Marlboro Heatstick when heated was reported by Davis and al. PLA is a biodegradable thermoplastic derived from renewable resources such as corn starch. This tentative identification is based on the GC-MS analysis of the headspace of a heated piece of PLA, and the subsequent compound identification by mass spectra matching (acceptance criteria >85%) with the spectra library of the National Institute of Standard and Technology (NIST). However, this was not confirmed by injecting a purchased analytical grade reference standard, in order to unambiguously prove the presence of formaldehyde cyanohydrin. Therefore, we decided to repeat the experiment using headspace injection gas chromatography coupled to high resolution mass spectrometry under similar conditions as described in the publication. Our headspace GC-HR-MS analyses showed four peaks, at retention times of 16.38, 16.47, 17.14, and 18.58 min, in good agreement with the reported data reported (figure 4).

    From the analysis of reference standards, we have confirmed the presence of both e-caprolactone (CAS# 502-44-3) and (S,S)-lactide (CAS# 4511-42-6) eluting at 16.47 and 17.14 min, respectively. We identified triacetin (CAS# 102-76-1) at 18.58 min, based on the reference standard, instead of 1,2-diacetin (their EI mass spectra are very similar).
    However, we have demonstrated unambiguously the a...

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  • Please publish full data and provide key specific facts

    NOT PEER REVIEWED
    The reporting of the results of this study is far from complete, which is concerning given the highly politicised controversy that surrounds this product. I hope the authors should respond to this comment by publishing supplementary material with all the data they collected in a an accessible form such a CSV file and summarised in tables in a supplementary memo.

    In particular, the authors should provide all data on the following:
    + Vaping and JUUL current use (used in past 30-days) prevalence stratified by age, clearly differentiating between 18 and over and under-18s
    + Frequency of use of vaping products and JUUL within the 30 days among current (past-30 days) users, ideally using the same frequency breakdown used in the National Youth Tobacco Survey
    + Breakdown of vaping status by smoking status and frequency of vaping and JUUL use - to help determine the extent to which regular JUUL use is concentrated among smokers
    + Smoking prevalence and frequency

    There is a rare opportunity to gain insights into a live controversy, yet the reporting of the survey is so incomplete it is difficult to draw any serious conclusions from it about the overall effect. For example, JUUL maybe displacing other vaping products used by youth as it is in the market overall. JUUL may be functioning as an alternative to smoking in both adolescents and adults and contributing to achieving smoke-free public health objectives.

    T...

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  • The unanswered question....

    NOT PEER REVIEWED
    The authors state "These stores have largely stopped carrying e-cigarettes at the same time as starting to stock IQOS HEETS (HEATSTICKS), the cigarette-like component that is smoked in the IQOS device,..." but provide no insight into why that is. Are these retailers being incentivised to stop selling e-cigs by PMI?

    While the risk profile of IQOS is uncertain, the product is highly likely to be much more harmful than vaping e-cigs. Commercial tactics that promote IQOS over vaping devices, excluding the latter from retail chains, would be of major concern for tobacco control.

    Can the authors enlighten us?

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