Renowned Health Expert Rips ‘Inappropriate And Misleading’ Study On Alternative Smoking Technologies

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

A leading public health expert sent a letter to federal regulators correcting an “inappropriate and misleading” study by the American Heart Association (AHA) on the risks from alternative smoking technologies.

Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos, a research fellow at Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center, is challenging claims made by the AHA that heat-not-burn devices cause adverse cardiovascular effects comparable to combustible cigarettes. AHA researchers relied on the short-term impact aerosol released from Philip Morris International’s (PMI) heat-not-burn product iQOS had on Flow-Mediated Dilatation (FMD), a noninvasive way to evaluate vascular function, reports Vaping Post.

In a public comment submission to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent Nov. 24, Farsalinos deconstructs the research methods of the AHA study, which he argues are deeply flawed. Farsalinos notes that while FMD is predictive of future adverse cardiovascular events when measured in stringently controlled conditions, it has “no prognostic value when measured after an acute exposure.

He also calls into question the overall accuracy of the research due to the conflicting results of several other studies on heat-not-burn technology. Previous reports on the technology consistently show that the iQOS device delivers nicotine at levels roughly 30 percent lower than conventional cigarettes, however the AHA research measured the device as delivering substantially higher nicotine levels than cigarettes, particularly alarming Dr. Farsalinos. He says the “paradoxical” results of the AHA research “raises concerns about the possibility for experimental error.”

“Exposure to nicotine from iQOS was by far higher compared to the respective exposure from the tobacco cigarette, making any comparisons inappropriate and misleading,” Farsalinos says in the letter to the FDA. “Therefore, this study provides no reliable scientific information about the effects of iQOS on cardiovascular disease risk.”

Users of heat-not-burn products insert sticks resembling short cigarettes into the device, which heats a concentrated dose of tobacco. By heating the tobacco rather than combusting it, roughly 90 to 95 percent of the toxins released by a cigarette are eliminated. (RELATED: Alternative Technology Is Wrecking  The Global Cigarette Market)

The iQOS debuted in Japan last year before being introduced in additional countries, and is proving to be a smash hit in the region. PMI announced Aug. 24 that approximately 3 million smokers in Singapore have transitioned from cigarettes to the iQOS. The company says more than 232,000 smokers across the world, or roughly 8,000 people a day, ditched cigarettes for the iQOS in July.

Efforts to spread misinformation on alternative smoking options that minimize their benefits simply deny smokers less harmful options while tacitly encouraging them to keep using a more dangerous product, public health advocates say.

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