By Patrick Meredith, Essentra Innovations Director
Legislation to control tobacco products is becoming more stringent and operating in this sector is increasingly complex with new ever-changing legislative requirements. The imminent EU Directive is one example of the significant changes we can expect to see to the tobacco and vaping industries, the effects of which will be felt globally and will include new requirements for regulation and composition of both combustibles and e-cigarettes.
Essentra Scientific Services was one of the first laboratories in the world to be both accredited for testing tobacco products and filters to ISO 17025 and UKAS accredited for testing products against the FDA’s abbreviated and expanded HPHC lists. As such the Essentra team has been at the forefront of method development for the analysis of traditional tobacco products, and the laboratory has the capacity for a range of services. These include tests for ignition propensity and tobacco level as well as analysis of mainstream and sidestream smoke, covering all compounds accounted for by current regulation.
Originally, Essentra set up the laboratory to provide quality control for filter manufacture, supporting internal projects focused on the development of new filters. Over the years the business has evolved in line with the external environment and is now a key pillar in our strategy to be a total solutions provider to the tobacco industry.
In comparison to the mature tobacco market, the vaping industry, which has grown exponentially in the last few years, is in its infancy. That said the external environment is just as complex. Countries such as Canada, Australia, and France have already brought e-cigarettes under tighter regulation, and the likes of China and Thailand are being called upon to do the same. Some markets, such as Indonesia, Singapore, and most recently Malaysia, have completely prohibited the import, distribution, and sale of e-cigarettes. These measures are likely to fuel further uncertainty in this relatively new market and may lead to other countries and governments following suit or implementing tighter regulations.
Essentra’s Scientific Services team hard at work.
As a result, it is likely that there will be an increased requirement for analytical testing as manufacturers strive to better understand their products and also satisfy regulatory requirements. Essentra Scientific Services has also seen significant recent growth in business demands from the e-cigarette market. Initially driven by development and benchmarking activities but also in preparation for the implementation of new EU tobacco regulations, Essentra Scientific Services has set up a completely separate laboratory to test e-cigarette products.
This includes a range of industry leading research and testing equipment, such as a gas chromatography (GC) machine with a triple detector system. Used exclusively for e-cigarette testing, the machine enables measurement of multiple analytes from a single vaping test. A thermal conductivity detector (TCD) measures the sample for water, while a second detector analyses it for propylene glycol and glycerol, and also measures the nicotine level. The third detector uses mass selective detection to analyze the sample for diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol, and other potential contaminants in e-cigarette vapor. Testing for a comprehensive range of compounds can also be carried out, or bespoke methods developed on request.
One issue that does still remain for the e-cigarette market is that there is not an agreed method of testing for the regulation. For example cigarette products in Europe have the 10-1-10 limit for tar, nicotine, and carbon-monoxide – most countries will adhere to 10-1-10 as measured according to the ISO standards related to cigarette smoking.
The lit cigarette industry has benefited from decades of investment in research and development, which has helped to improve raw material and product quality whilst also automating production. E-cigarettes are still predominantly hand-made and machine development for their production is in its relative infancy. This, along with the variability of voltage/resistance devices and button-operated devices leads to issues with maintaining consistency from device-to-device and standardising e-cigarettes as a whole. Without the equivalent standard product regulations for e-cigarette production and emissions, it will be difficult to implement regulations.
Despite the pressures on the tobacco market, the requirement for regulatory testing is growing and is likely to continue to grow. If the obligation to provide enhanced reporting on additives in both combustibles and e-cigarettes is implemented,
Essentra’s equipment and testing methods make for a more efficient and cost-effective solution. Essentra Scientific Services enables Essentra to not only to support its own product offering, but also to meet customers’ increasing need for reliable analytical and commercial testing, combined with expert guidance and innovative product solutions.
We will continue to see further regulation in both the combustibles and e-cigarettes markets, which is likely increase the need for new testing methods and requirements. Whilst this makes both the products and market place potentially more complex, one way for manufacturers to reduce this complexity is to work with testing laboratories such as Essentra Scientific Services.