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Tobacco majors have spent $9.6 billion on R&D of safe smoking options since 2008, exec says

DUBAI: British American Tobacco and Philip Morris International have invested $9.6 billion in researching and developing safe alternatives to smoking.

BAT invested $589 million in R&D to develop innovative new-class products last year, according to Dr. Hugo Tan, the company’s regional manager for science engagement in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East region.

What matters is not just believing what people say, but being guided by the evidence. Not only consumers, but also public health experts and regulators often equate nicotine with cigarettes.

Hugo Tan, BAT’s regional science engagement manager for Asia-Pacific and the Middle East.

Tan told Arab News that tobacco harm reduction is a strategy that recognizes the harmful effects of combustible cigarettes and encourages smokers to switch entirely to alternatives such as vaping and heated tobacco products.

“It has been widely accepted and adopted by many countries including the US, UK, Germany, France and others,” Tan said.

Since 2008, PMI has invested over $9 billion in R&D of smoke-free products.

It added that the move is backed by its R&D center in Southampton and 1,500 specialists, who have contributed to the publication of more than 130 peer-reviewed scientific studies on its new category products.

In addition, PMI’s professionals include more than 930 scientists, engineers, and technicians engaged in building scientific evaluation capabilities, such as preclinical systems toxicology, clinical and behavioral research, and post-marketing evaluation. , according to the company’s website.

Nicotine Myths

Tan clarified many myths about nicotine and explained how it is essential to rely on evidence to make decisions.

“What matters is not just believing what people say, but being guided by the evidence,” he continued.

Not only consumers, but also public health experts like him and regulators often equate nicotine with cigarettes, Tan added.

However, evidence has shown that it is primarily the smoke from burning tobacco and not the nicotine that causes most of the health risks associated with cigarettes. Nicotine, he said, is just one of many chemicals found in cigarettes.

BAT has also completed an as yet unpublished study of a clinical trial on one of the new category’s products, Vuse. This study examines the two scenarios, the Vuse user and the cigarette user.

“This will provide insight into the differences in potential harm biomarkers between Vuse users versus cigarette smokers, and from there we can see if one indicator differs from the other in terms of biomarkers,” he said. -he declares.

Tan said that in the UK there are major health regulators and medical associations that have contributed to tobacco harm reduction strategies.

He cited Public Health England’s report on electronic cigarettes that vaping was 95% safer than smoking combustible cigarettes.

Based on their clinical findings on the website, PMI has also found that the use of their tobacco heating system, such as IQOS, has a positive impact on the health of smokers.

Despite the clinical results of research from PMI and BAT, Dr Karem Harb, general practitioner and medical director of Dubai-based Hortman Clinics, said there were not enough studies on e-cigarettes or e-cigarettes. coil-heated tobacco.

Smokers admit they feel better with e-cigarettes. This is because they contain less or no tar. On the other hand, many e-cigarette smokers have reported increased heart palpitations and anxiety.

Karem Harb, Medical Director and General Practitioner of Dubai-based Hortman Clinics.

In his opinion, the new trend of electronic cigarettes or similar products is that they have a higher concentration of nicotine compared to regular cigarettes.

“Smokers admit they feel better with e-cigarettes and breathe better, sleep better, etc. and that’s because they contain less or no tar,” Harb said.

“On the other hand, many e-cigarette smokers have reported increased heart palpitations and anxiety, which may be directly related to the higher levels of nicotine compared to regular cigarettes,” Harb added.

Ways to Accelerate Alternatives

Additionally, BAT offers five ways to speed up THR, Tan said.

The company encourages data collection to better understand the potential impact of electronic nicotine delivery products in the region.

He said this approach would improve consumer choice, quality and trust in products.

Developing an appropriate regulatory system would be the second step in which science-based relative risks are differentiated and used to guide policies such as taxation, Tan added.

He explained that another way to ensure that products can adapt to changing consumer preferences is to allow them to innovate.

Communication is essential for regulators and consumers to make informed decisions and to support transparent research collaboration between industry and academia to eliminate biased research.

Responsible marketing freedom, he concluded, enables consumers to move more quickly from combustible to non-combustible products. He said BAT is committed to assisting and working with local regulators to implement THR strategies.

According to the PMI website, the Food and Drug Administration has approved modified-risk versions of IQOS Platform 1 devices and consumables for marketing as modified-risk tobacco products.

PMI’s smoke-free products were available in 71 countries as of March 31, 2022.

It is stated on the website that the FDA has deemed it appropriate to modify the exposure orders for these products to promote public health.

As Harb concluded, although many claim to have quit smoking and embraced what appears to be a healthier substitute, there is still much to learn about new industry trends and new age group populations that adopt this habit. “Not smoking is always the best alternative,” he said.

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