Assessing modified risk tobacco and nicotine products: Description of the scientific framework and assessment of a closed modular electronic cigarette
Cigarette smoking causes many human diseases including cardiovascular disease, lung disease and cancer. Novel tobacco products with reduced yields of toxicants compared to cigarettes, such as tobacco-heating products, snus and electronic cigarettes, hold great potential for reducing the harms associated with tobacco use. In the UK several public health agencies have advocated a potential role for novel products in tobacco harm reduction. Public Health England has stated that “The current best estimate is that e-cigarettes are around 95% less harmful than smoking” and the Royal College of Physicians has urged public health to “Promote e-cigarettes widely as substitute for smoking”.
Health related claims on novel products such as ‘reduced exposure’ and ‘reduced risk’ should be substantiated using a weight of evidence approach based on a comprehensive scientific assessment. The US FDA, has provided draft guidance outlining a framework to assess novel products as Modified Risk Tobacco Products (MRTP). Based on this, we now propose a framework comprising pre-clinical, clinical, and population studies to assess the risk profile of novel tobacco products.
Additionally, the utility of this framework is assessed through the pre-clinical and part of the clinical comparison of a commercial e-cigarette (Vype ePen) with a scientific reference cigarette (3R4F) and the results of these studies suggest that ePen has the potential to be a reduced risk product.