News Release

Press release: Pre-clinical assessment of tobacco-free nicotine pouches demonstrates reduced in-vitro toxicity compared to combustible cigarette smoke in recent study

Reduced levels of toxicants in Imperial Brands nicotine pouches translates directly into substantially reduced in-vitro biological activity in recent study

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Imperial Brands

Figure 1

image: Representative average reductions in in vitro toxicity for nicotine pouches compared to combustible cigarette smoke view more 

Credit: Imperial Brands Science

As part of our commitment to making a meaningful contribution to tobacco harm reduction, Imperial Brands continues to assess the tobacco harm reduction (THR) potential of our Next Generation Product (NGP) portfolio relative to combustible tobacco.

In this latest study, published in the journal Applied In Vitro Toxicology (, two commercially available Imperial Brands nicotine pouch products were compared to combustible cigarette smoke across three toxicological assays:

- Neutral red uptake (NRU) assay. Measures cytotoxicity, considered a potential step in several chronic disease processes associated with smoking - including cancer, cardiovascular disease and emphysema.

- In vitro micronucleus (IVM) test. Measures genotoxicity, the damage to the structure or function of genetic material often mechanistically linked with the development of cancers. 

- Ames test. Assesses mutagenicity, which is the ability of substances to affect the genetic material in cells.
Under the conditions of test, the results were as follows:

Combustible cigarette smoke induced a statistically significant positive response across all three assays.

In contrast, tobacco-free nicotine pouches were negative in both the IVM and Ames assays, while demonstrating only weak cytotoxicity compared to combustible cigarette smoke in the NRU assay (>99% reduction).

Matthew Stevenson, Investigative & Mechanistic Toxicity Senior Manager and study co-author, commented: “It’s encouraging to see the reduced levels of toxicants in our nicotine pouch products compared to combustible cigarette smoke translating directly into substantially reduced in vitro biological responses.

“This latest study was undertaken as part of wider research across our Scientific Assessment Framework as we seek to demonstrate to a range of stakeholders - including regulators, public health bodies and consumers - how these NGPs can play a positive role in THR strategies.

“We look forward to publishing further substantive research around these products in the near future.”

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