Dr. Farsalinos’ New Study DESTROYS Old Anti-Vaping Argument


World-renowned tobacco control expert compares the effect of smoking with both Heat-not-Burn and traditional vaping technologies

Vaping has truly grown into its own over the last five years, becoming not just an alternative to traditional smoking, but also a preferred lifestyle for many former smokers. Unfortunately, this growth in acceptance among the smoking community has not spilled over into the general population, as the debate over the actual safety of vaping is as strong as ever. This has only become more complicated as some companies, especially Big Tobacco, are introducing an alternative to the traditional atomizer and e-liquid vaping. Called Heat-not-Burn, this process takes small sticks of real tobacco and heats them much in the same way a vaporizer works.

While you would think only anti-vapers would be quick to equate these new devices with traditional vaporizers, it turns out that the lack of research into them has allowed both sides to claim whatever suits them. With this being the case, it’s no wonder why Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos chose to look into the real-life impact of different types of smoking/vaping devices in a recently published study.

New Study

Dr. Farsalinos and his team set out to track the carbonyl emissions from several different devices, including a Philip Morris International iQOS heat-not-burn vape, a traditional e-cigarette (Nautilus Mini), as well as Marlboro Red cigarettes. They tested both regular and menthol versions of each product, as well as using wattage between 10-14 watts. They then collected the aerosols and smoke with impingers that contained both 2 and 4 dinitrophenylhydrazines. To ensure adequate information for their results, the team used three different types of intense puffing scenarios, including the Health Canada Intense Regime.

After testing each device and recording the harmful substances such as formaldehyde emitted from each, a significant pattern became extremely clear. The iQOS heat-not-burn devices emitted, on average, 91.6% less formaldehyde than traditional smoke. This extreme drop off extended to other tested substances such as acetaldehyde (84.9%), acrolein (90.6%), propionaldehyde (89.0%), and crotonaldehyde (95.6%). Summing up these findings, the Health Canada Intense puffing regime concluded that using 20 heat-not-burn sticks would result in between 81.7% and 97.9% less carbonyl exposure than smoking 20 cigarettes. But probably the most significant news for vapers is what happened when they tested traditional e-liquid vaping.

E-Liquid Vaping Vs. Heat-not-Burn

While the latest Dr. Farsalinos study is indeed good news for the relatively new heat-not-burn devices, it’s also more evidence that proves traditional e-liquid vaping and heat-not-burn are simply not the same. When the researchers looked into concentrations of the same dangerous substances in the e-cigarette vapor, the results are almost as dramatic as between smoking and heat-not-burn.

According to the study, the amount of formaldehyde emitted by the e-cigarettes was between 5 and 13 times lower than in the heat-not-burn device. This trend was even more dramatic for the other substances. Acrolein levels were around 35 times lower while acetaldehyde emissions were at the very least 96 times lower. They weren’t even able to detect any propionaldehyde or crotonaldehyde in the vapor at all. Even the Health Canada Intense puffing regime followed suit, with the carbonyl exposure of 5 gs of e-liquid coming in between 92.2% and 99.8% lower than traditional cigarettes. Perhaps unsurprisingly, these results fit quite well into the findings of the famous 2015 Public Health England study that concluded vaping was at least 95% safer than smoking.


While it’s great that we have another option as a harm reduction tool, it’s vital that we as a community don’t co-opt the idea that heat-not-burn and e-liquid vaping are mostly the same. Studies like this prove that we must take a longer look at exactly what makes each one unique to fully understand how to utilize them for harm reduction and smoking cessation purposes. It’s also important to remember that while most e-liquid vaporizer makers are independently owned, or owned by larger vaping-only corporations, a majority of the heat-not-burn devices on the market around the world are owned by Big Tobacco companies such as Philip Morris’ iQOS device.

If we support these heat-not-burn devices with the same ferocity that we defend e-liquid vaping with, we may ultimately be helping bring an end to the independent vaping industry as we know it. Don’t be fooled, Philip Morris International has even noted on several occasions that they are actively planning for a world without traditional cigarettes at all, and heat-not-burn devices are the key. Luckily, evidence like this also shows that when it comes to harm reduction, e-liquid vaping is king. Not only are the rates of harmful chemicals much lower, but in some cases, they’re entirely undetectable compared with heat-not-burn devices.

Have you ever tried a heat-not-burn device? Do you think it’s important not to equate e-liquid vaping and heat-not-burn devices? How can we best highlight the differences between the two harm reduction tools? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.

Dustin has been vaping for almost a decade. He found e-cigarettes in 2008 and quickly became drawn to them as an early adopter. He's been writing reviews ever since and has established himself as a well-versed authority on the subject.

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1 Response

  1. Paul Ford says:

    Another great study by  Dr. Farsalinos. I’m so happy that we keep making it harder and harder for
    “Public Health” and ANTZ to demonize us. That’s good news for the hub products too, smokers need all the options available to help them transition away from smoking into something much less harmful.

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