Imperial Brands understands society’s concerns about the health risks of smoking, and we also recognise our important role in helping to reduce the harm caused by combustible tobacco.

Driven by a belief in the public health concept of tobacco harm reduction, or THR, we’re committed to offering the world’s billion-plus adult smokers a broad portfolio of compelling alternatives, which we refer to as Next Generation Products (NGP).

Scientifically substantiating these NGP as being less harmful than cigarettes, and therefore likely to benefit wider population health, is crucial.

As a responsible manufacturer, we assess our NGP portfolio using the state-of-the-art framework below.

Dr Thomas Nahde
Scientific Substantiation and Engagement Lead

//Explore our 5 step scientific framework

Harmful and Potentially Harmful Constituents (HPHCs) are classified by public health experts as causes or potential causes of smoking related disease. We compare the levels in our Next Generation Products (NGPs) to either combusted cigarette smoke or other tobacco product comparators before proceeding with any product development. Once our Product Characterisation science has demonstrated that a product may have the potential to fit in the NGP portfolio, our laboratory-based in-vitro assays help determine if use of the product translates to reduced toxicity in human cells. Clinical studies – studies on humans – are then conducted to confirm whether the potential reductions in HPHCs and toxicity measured in the laboratory studies can also be observed in the actual usage of NGPs. Our Perception and Behavioural (P&B) science studies helps us understand all elements of product use, perceptions of harmfulness and addictiveness associated with our NGPs. In parallel, ongoing evaluation of product usage by adult smokers following commercialisation – including both intended and unintended use – is crucial for assessing potential health benefits. This area of our science aims to understand population knowledge, attitudes, usage patterns and behaviours once our NGPs are on the market. This includes data around adverse events and health related outcomes, plus information collected through P&B studies and population-wide surveillance. Data Analytics underpins all the steps in our framework. We use statistical and analytical methods, processes, algorithms and systems to extract vital knowledge and insights. We also combine domain expertise, programming skills, data analysis and machine learning to understand, scrutinise and extract meaningful information from both our structured and unstructured data.

Components of our scientific framework are based on the US National Academy of Science’s innovative blueprint for Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century (TT21C).

TT21C advocates the use of in-vitro testing using human cells as a more relevant alternative to traditional in-vivo testing. No animal testing occurs, making it a more ethical alternative that’s consistent with our wider corporate position not to test on animals.

We also continually assess our products to ensure they are the highest quality in terms of manufacture, engineering and ingredients, helping raise standards across the wider NGP landscape.

Our partnerships with leading scientific organisations and commitment to internationally recognised NGP standards help us engage with global regulatory authorities.

We invite critique of our science through the process of peer-review in international scientific journals, and the regular presentation of our research at international conferences.

We believe openness, transparency and collaboration enhance the scientific understanding of NGPs and best serve our adult smoker consumers.

We also believe the robust and comprehensive scientific assessment of the comparative risk of NGPs compared to cigarettes should form the basis of evidence-based global regulation.

Innovation is vital too. In 2018, we filed over 140 patents with the UK Intellectual Property Office for NGP-related technologies – making us a top ten company in this respect.