Currently, of all cigarette smoke constituents, only nicotine and carbon monoxide are measured. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) Study Group on Tobacco Product Regulation proposed back in 2008 that to efficiently regulate cigarettes, other constituents needed to be measured.
Christopher Wright, Head of Analytical Science at British American Tobacco, said this measure would only be conceivable if there is a global standardized testing method managed by an international regulatory body like the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
However, due to the low levels of constituents and cigarette smoke’s chemical complexity it is difficult to measure cigarette smoke substances in a harmonized manner. Currently there are different and divergent techniques to test smoke substances mainly because testing methods have been develop in isolation.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) adopts an open and broad attitude, and has recently applied a new initiative to reference products and competence studies. Both are essential requisites to establish ‘fit-for-purpose’ methods.
The determination to advance with a national program opens the prospect of standardizing analytical methods while increasing the reproducibility of data gathering.
At the moment, WHO labs are doing a validation test to establish the best approaches to measure nine specific smoke substances which could benefit inclusiveness and openness to peer review. “Without collective investment in the development of robust quality control processes, technical agreement between industry, commercial testing laboratories and regulatory organizations will be very difficult to demonstrate, and perhaps impossible,” said Wright in a recent news release.
“Regulatory authorities need to consider the reality of regulating cigarettes without harmonized quality control processes and comparable laboratory test data,” Wright concluded.