|British American Tobacco (BAT) Korea Country Manager Kim Eun-ji, right, speaks during the company's press conference on research into the risks of tobacco-heating products at the Plaza Hotel in Seoul, Thursday. BAT's Group Head of Potentially Reduced Risk Product Sciences James Murphy, left on screen, and the firm's North Asia Area Legal and External Affairs Head Bae Yoon-suk joined the conference online. Courtesy of BAT Korea|
By Nam Hyun-woo
British American Tobacco (BAT) claimed Thursday that smokers using its tobacco-heating product glo instead of cigarettes may significantly reduce their risk of smoking-related diseases, citing its own study showing users had reduced exposure to certain cigarette smoke toxicants.
"We understand that smokers considering making the switch to new category products such as glo want to better understand the expected benefits and potential reduced harm they deliver compared to cigarettes," said James Murphy, BAT head of Potentially Reduced Risk Product Sciences, who participated remotely in BAT Korea's press conference in Seoul.
"These initial results regarding glo are extremely encouraging ― glo provides smokers who wish to continue using tobacco and nicotine products with a potentially reduced risk alternative to cigarettes."
According to the results of the study, BAT said smokers who switched completely from smoking cigarettes to using glo substantially reduced their exposure to certain cigarette smoke toxicants over three months.
BAT began a 12-month study to explore the risks of tobacco-heating products in May last year of more than 500 people at four sites in the U.K. and the data it revealed on Thursday is from the first three months.
It revealed subjects who switched to glo showed greater reductions in biomarkers of exposure (BoE), such as 2-cyanoethyl mercapturic acid (CEMA) and S-phenylmercapturic acid (S-PMA), compared to those subjects who continued to smoke cigarettes. CEMA is the biomarker gauging exposure to acrylonitrile, and S-PMA is for benzene.
Of the BoEs, CEMA showed a 91 percent reduction from their baseline in the glo group, which was close to a 95 percent reduction in the cessation group, according to the data.
"The findings demonstrate that when smokers switched from smoking combustible cigarettes to using glo, reductions in their exposure to smoke toxicants were sustained for the 90-day period," an abstract of the report read.
Murphy said the company has recently submitted its six-month data to scientific journals and the results of the full study will be available next year, adding that BAT expects the final results will not differ greatly from the three-month results.
The announcement came amid rival Philip Morris' battle with the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety over the safety of tobacco-heating products. Philip Morris also has been claiming its tobacco-heating product, IQOS, has fewer risks compared to combustible cigarettes. The firm has been in legal battles with the ministry over its 2018 announcement that heat-not-burn tobacco products are as harmful as combustible cigarettes.
BAT dropped hints that it could be joining Philip Morris' efforts to convince the regulators.
"We do believe the Korean market also needs mid- to long-term (e-cigarette) policies based on scientific evidence," BAT Head of Legal and External Affairs, North Asia Area, Bae Yoon-suk said. "We have begun talks with our competitors over joint efforts for introducing differentiated regulations for e-cigarettes."
During the conference, BAT Korea's new Country Manager Kim Eun-ji said the company's plant in Sacheon, South Gyeongsang Province, will likely surpass the $400 million mark in accumulated exports, just a year after it reached the $300 million mark.
"BAT founded a factory in Sacheon in 2002 and has made a continuous contribution to the local economy and industrial development for the last 30 years since the establishment of the company," Kim said. "Going forward, BAT Korea will continue to evolve, making Korea a global hub for product manufacturing and talent."