Measurements with smoke machines underestimate harmful substances

De Bilt

Smoking machines used to evaluate cigarettes significantly underestimate exposure to harmful substances due to the smoking methods they use. As a result, smokers are exposed to much higher amounts of harmful substances than measured. This is the opinion of PhD candidate Charlotte Pauwels in her dissertation Smoking topography and the assessment of exposure to cigarette smoke compounds, for which she will defend her PhD at Maastricht University on Monday 4 October 2021.

By comparing smokers’ exposure to harmful substances with the results of measurements with smoking machines, Charlotte Pauwels wants to contribute to scientifically substantiated regulations for tobacco. The study took into account the daily use of cigarettes by smokers and the way in which they smoke a cigarette. Tobacco smoke contains thousands of chemicals, many in amounts that can be harmful to health, but only tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide have been legally regulated so far.


The research shows that the smoking methods used for smoke machines underestimate the smoker’s exposure to harmful substances. For regular cigarettes, the exposure is two to three times higher than what is measured. For filter cigarettes with a high degree of filter ventilation through ventilation holes, the so-called light or mild cigarettes, this is even more. One reason for this is that the draw volumes are too low in the legally prescribed method. The number of puffs the smoke machine takes is also lower than that of smokers. This is apparent from the studies conducted with smoking volunteers. This has shown that every smoker has his own smoking profile.


In her PhD research, Charlotte Pauwels makes a number of recommendations regarding the method used in smoke machines. One of the recommendations is to adjust the number of puffs to three instead of one or two puffs per minute to make the method more similar to human smoking behaviour. She also indicates that more than one test method is desirable. This makes it more difficult for manufacturers to match their product to the test method, reducing the chance that the amount of harmful substances is underestimated. Charlotte Pauwels also proposes to half cover filters with a holder when testing in a fog machine. In this way, the blocking of ventilation holes with lips or fingers by smokers is simulated.

Measurements with smoke machines underestimate harmful substances
Source link Measurements with smoke machines underestimate harmful substances

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